Psychiatric outcome following paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission: a cohort study

Intensive Care Med. 2004 Aug;30(8):1607-14. doi: 10.1007/s00134-004-2310-9. Epub 2004 Apr 27.


Objective: To determine whether paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission is associated with greater psychiatric morbidity in children and parents as compared with general paediatric ward admissions.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: Paediatric intensive care unit and two general paediatric wards of a London teaching hospital.

Participants: Children aged 5-18 years discharged from PICU (exposed cohort) and general paediatric wards (unexposed cohort) 6-12 months previously, together with their parents.

Measurements and results: Children: the Clinician Administered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Scale for Children (CAPS-C), the Impact of Event Scale (IES), Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, Birleson Depression Scale, Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale, Child Somatization Inventory. Parents: IES, General Health Questionnaire, Beck Depression Inventory, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Thirty-five of 46 (76%) PICU-discharged families and 33 of 41 (80%) from general paediatric wards participated. Valid CAPS-C data were obtained for 19 PICU-admitted children and 27 children admitted only to the general paediatric ward; 4/19 (21%) of PICU-discharged children developed PTSD (compared with none of 27 ward admissions), p=0.02. PICU children had significantly more PTSD features of irritability and persistent avoidance of reminders of the admission. Parents of PICU children were more likely to screen positive for PTSD (9/33 (27%) compared with 2/29 (7%) parents of ward-admitted children), p=0.04. There were no significant differences between the groups for other measures of psychopathology.

Conclusion: Post traumatic stress disorder diagnosis and symptomatology is significantly more common in families where a child has been admitted to the PICU. Consideration should be given to providing psychological support for children and parents after PICU admission.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric*
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*