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To assess the independent associations between ability to cope and hopelessness with measures of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and their effects on mortality up to 3 years after discharge in patients who have been treated in an intensive care unit (ICU).A prospective, cross-sectional multicenter study of 980 patients. Ability to cope, hopelessness, and HRQoL were evaluated using validated scales. Questionnaires were sent to patients 6, 12, 24, and 36 months after discharge from ICU.After adjustment, low scores for ability to cope and high scores for hopelessness were both related to poorer HRQoL for all subscales (except for coping with bodily pain). Effects were in the same range as coexisting disease for physical subscales, and stronger for social and mental subscales. High scores for hopelessness also predicted mortality up to 3 years after discharge from ICU (p < 0.001).The psychological factors ability to cope and hopelessness both strongly affected HRQoL after ICU care, and this effect was stronger than the effects of coexisting disease. Hopelessness also predicted mortality after critical illness. Awareness of the psychological state of patients after a stay in ICU is important to identify which of them are at risk.Hopelessness is an independent predictor of mortality after a ICU follow-up period.Ability to cope are as important as coexisting diseases for health-related quality of life in former patients from ICU.Hopelessness is as important as coexisting diseases for health-related quality of life in former patients from ICU.