Symptoms of anxiety and depression in family members of intensive care unit patients before discharge or death. A prospective multicenter study

J Crit Care. 2005 Mar;20(1):90-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2004.11.004.


Study objectives: More than two thirds of family members visiting intensive care unit (ICU) patients have symptoms of anxiety or depression during the first days of hospitalization. Identifying determinants of these symptoms would help caregivers support families at patient discharge or when death is imminent.

Design and setting: Prospective multicenter study including 78 ICUs (1184 beds) in France.

Participants: Family members completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale on the day of patient discharge or death to allow evaluation of the prevalence and potential factors associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Results: Three hundred fifty-seven patients were included in the study, and 544 family members completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were found in 73.4% and 35.3% of family members, respectively; 75.5% of family members and 82.7% of spouses had symptoms of anxiety or depression (P = .007). Symptoms of depression were more prevalent in family members of nonsurvivors (48.2%) than of survivors (32.7%) (P = .008). The multivariate model identified 3 groups of factors associated with symptoms: (1) patient-related: severity as assessed by the Simplified Acute Physiology Score II (odds ratio [OR] 1.017 per point) and patient age (OR 0.984 per year) predicted anxiety, and Simplified Acute Physiology Score II (OR, 1.015 per point), patient death (OR 2.092), and patient age (OR 0.981) predicted depression; (2) family-related: the spouse predicted anxiety (OR 2.085); and (3) ICU-related: a room with more than 1 bed (OR 1.539) predicted depression.

Conclusion: The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety and depression remains high at the end of the ICU stay, whether the patient is well enough to be discharged or is near death.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Death
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Family / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index