Health-related quality of life in critically ill patients: how to score and what is the clinical impact?

Curr Opin Crit Care. 2009 Oct;15(5):425-30. doi: 10.1097/MCC.0b013e32833079e4.


Purpose of review: Traditionally, the assessment of critical care has focused largely on mortality. However, in the last few years, there is more attention on the quality of survival. Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is an important issue for both patients and family. The purpose of this review is to describe HRQOL scoring in critically ill patients and to discuss the clinical impact on HRQOL.

Recent findings: Studies on the effect of critical illness on HRQOL show contradicting results. Several studies found that HRQOL at the time of discharge from hospital was impaired and that a gradual improvement occurred during follow-up, in some cases to preadmission hospital levels. Others show a full recovery to preadmission HRQOL.

Summary: In this article, we reviewed the methods and description of measurement instruments used in critically ill patients. The most recently used instruments to measure HRQOL, how to score HRQOL before ICU admission and the impact of critical illness on HRQOL are discussed. Assessment of HRQOL can improve the answers given by critical care physicians and nurses about the prospects of their patients. To get insights in these issues regarding the impact of ICU treatment, we should incorporate not only short-term outcomes, for example length of stay and mortality, but also HRQOL.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Critical Illness*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Mental Health
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*