During recent years increasing attention has been given to the quality of survival in critical care. Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is an important issue both for patients and their families. Furthermore, admission to the intensive care unit can have adverse psychological effects in critically ill patients. Recent studies conducted in critically ill patients have measured HRQOL. However, usually absent from such reports are evaluations of conceptual issues, addressing factors such as why HRQOL should be measured in critically ill patients, how to define and standardize domains of HRQOL, whether proxies can provide useful information about HRQOL in critically ill patients, whether response shift occurs in critically ill patients, and whether post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs in critically ill patients. Some studies reported moderate agreement between patients and their proxies, although lower levels of agreement may be reported for psychosocial or physical functioning. Response shift (adaptation and change in perception) appears to be an important phenomenon and likely to be present, but it is seldom measured when estimating HRQOL in critically ill patients. Furthermore, vigilance for symptoms of PTSD and early interventions to prevent PTSD are needed.