Rationale: Delusional memories are significantly associated with post-traumatic stress in adult patients after intensive care.
Objectives: In this study, we attempted to establish whether this relationship was found in children. We also examined the association between factual memory and distress.
Methods: One hundred two consecutive children, aged between 7 and 17 years, were interviewed about their pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) experience 3 months after discharge from a PICU. Principal measures were the ICU Memory Tool (a checklist of intensive care memories) and an abbreviated version of the Impact of Event Scale (a screen for post-traumatic stress disorder).
Measurements and main results: In total, 64 of 102 (63%) children reported at least one factual memory of their admission and 33 of 102 (32%) reported delusional memories, including disturbing hallucinations. Traumatic brain injury was negatively associated with factual memory (odds ratio, 0.23; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.09-0.58; P = 0.002). Longer duration of opiates/benzodiazepines was associated with delusional memory (odds ratio, 4.98; 95% CI, 1.3-20.0; P = 0.023). Post-traumatic stress scores were higher in children reporting delusional memories (adjusted difference, 3.0; 95% CI, 0.06-5.9; P = 0.045) when illness severity and emergency status were controlled for. Factual memory was not significantly associated with post-traumatic stress.
Conclusions: This study indicates that delusional memories are reported by almost one-third of children and are associated both with the duration of opiates/benzodiazepines and risk of post-traumatic stress. More research is needed on the presence of delusional memories and associated risk factors in children receiving intensive care treatment.