Long-term outcome in ICU patients: what about quality of life?

Intensive Care Med. 2003 Aug;29(8):1286-93. doi: 10.1007/s00134-003-1875-z. Epub 2003 Jul 8.


Objective: Analysis of mortality and quality of life (QOL) after intensive care unit (ICU) discharge.

Design: Prospective, observational study.

Setting: Mixed, 31-bed, medico-surgical ICU.

Patients: Consecutive adult ICU admissions between June 25 and September 10, 2000, except admissions for uncomplicated elective postoperative surveillance. INTERVENTIONS. None.

Measurements and results: Age, past history, admission APACHE II, SOFA score (admission, maximum, discharge), ICU and hospital mortality were recorded. A telephone interview employing the EuroQol 5D system was conducted 18 months after discharge. Of 202 patients, 34 (16.8%) died in the ICU and 23 (11.4%) died in the hospital after ICU discharge. Of the 145 patients discharged alive from hospital, 22 could not be contacted and 27 (13.4%) had died after hospital discharge. Of the 96 patients (47.5%) who completed the questionnaire, 38% had a worse QOL than prior to ICU admission, but only 8.3% were severely incapacitated. Twenty-three patients (24%) had reduced mobility, 15 (15.6%) had limited autonomy, 24 (25%) had alteration in usual daily activities, 29 (30.2%) expressed more anxiety/depression, and 42 (44%) had more discomfort or pain. Twenty-eight (62.2% of those who worked previously) patients had returned to work 18 months after ICU discharge.

Conclusions: Comparing QOL after discharge with that before admission, patients more frequently report worse QOL for the domains of pain/discomfort and anxiety/depression than for physical domains. Factors commonly associated with a change in QOL were previous problems in the affected domains, prolonged hospital length of stay (LOS), greater disease severity at admission and degree of organ dysfunction during ICU stay.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Discharge
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires