Comparison of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress symptoms in relatives of ICU patients in an American and an Indian public hospital

Indian J Crit Care Med. 2011 Jul;15(3):147-56. doi: 10.4103/0972-5229.84891.


Context: An intensive care unit (ICU) admission of a patient causes considerable stress among relatives. Whether this impact differs among populations with differing sociocultural factors is unknown.

Aims: The aim was to compare the psychological impact of an ICU admission on relatives of patients in an American and Indian public hospital.

Settings and design: A cross-sectional study was carried out in ICUs of two tertiary care hospitals, one each in major metropolitan cities in the USA and India.

Materials and methods: A total of 90 relatives visiting patients were verbally administered a questionnaire between 48 hours and 72 hours of ICU admission that included the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES-R) for post-traumatic stress response.

Statistical analysis: Statistical analysis was done using the Mann-Whitney and chi-square tests.

Results: Relatives in the Indian ICU had more anxiety symptoms (median HADS-A score 11 [inter-quartile range 9-13] vs. 4 [1.5-6] in the American cohort; P<0.0001), more depression symptoms (BDI-II score 14 [8.5-19] vs. 6 [1.5-10.5], P<0.0001) but a comparable post-traumatic stress response (IES-R score>30). 55% of all relatives had an incongruous perception regarding "change in the patient's condition" compared to the objective change in severity of illness. "Change in worry" was incongruous compared to the perception of improvement of the patient's condition in 78% of relatives.

Conclusions: Relatives of patients in the Indian ICU had greater anxiety and depression symptoms compared to those in the American cohort, and had significant differences in factors that may be associated with this psychological impact. Both groups showed substantial discordance between the perceived and objective change in severity of illness.

Keywords: Anxiety; depression; family; psychological; stress; stress disorders; traumatic.