Objective: To evaluate health-related quality of life (HR-QOL) and study its determinants in adult patients discharged from an intensive care unit (ICU).
Design: Cohort study.
Setting: Intensive care unit (ICU), tertiary care hospital, Oporto, Portugal.
Patients: Of all the patients discharged over a 2 year period, 355 were considered eligible and 275 completed the study.
Measurements and results: Patients were interviewed 6 months after ICU discharge using EuroQol 5-D (EQ-5D). At the interview only 29% reported feeling worse than 6 months before ICU admission. The proportions of those reporting moderate to extreme problems in the five dimensions studied were as follows: mobility (37%), self-care (22%), usual activities (46%), pain/discomfort (45%) and anxiety/depression (54%). Although 77% of patients reported a problem in at least one dimension, 44% referred to no problems or only moderate problems regarding pain or anxiety. EQ visual analogue scale (VAS) and EQ Index medians were 60 and 81, respectively.
Conclusions: Intensive care unit variables (e.g., diagnosis, length of stay and severity of disease) and patient's background data (e.g., age, gender, education, main activity, smoking habits, experience with serious illness and previous health status) may be significant determinants of HR-QOL. However, when adjusted for background data, most ICU variables are no longer associated with EQ-5D. This should cause attention to be paid to the role of a patient's background in the evaluation of HR-QOL and to a careful interpretation of EQ-5D results when comparing ICUs.