Perspectives of patients and family members regarding psychological support using intensive care diaries: An exploratory mixed methods study

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Diaries summarizing intensive care are routine practice in some countries, although evidence to support diary use is limited. The purpose of this study was to identify whether distress post-intensive care influences patients' and relatives' choice as to whether they would like to receive a diary and what information delivery method is preferred.

Materials and methods:

Intensive care patients admitted for at least 3 days and their relatives participated in an exploratory mixed methods study. Interviews were conducted 3 to 5 months after discharge. Psychological distress was assessed using Kessler-10 and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Checklist − 5. Perceptions of benefit of diaries were assessed using a 4-point Likert scale. Differences were examined using Fisher exact test (P < .05).


Fifty-seven patients and 22 relatives consented to participation, with 22 patients and 22 relatives interviewed before data saturation. Psychological distress was evident in 25 (47%) patients and 5 (23%) relatives. Participants' psychological health was similar for those who perceived diaries as beneficial, and those who did not. Themes included memory, process, and impact, although opinions were diverse.


Patient and relative preferences of receiving a diary are not related to psychological distress. Diverse opinions around common themes suggest the need for a range of interventions to aid psychological recovery.

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