Problems survivors face after intensive care unit (ICU) discharge begin while they are still in the ward, where many of their specific problems may run unrecognized, but they assume a heavy weight when they arrive at their homes and face several kind of limitations, from being unable to climb stairs because of weight loss, asthenia, dyspnea or joint stiffness to anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Follow-up consultations have given us a better understanding of these specific problems, and the information gained has been used to improve intensive care itself and promote a quality service for patients and relatives. The aim of this article is to provide an overview on adult ICU outcome studies and discuss how they have influenced and improved the delivery of intensive care. We will explain how we went from real patients to outcome studies and what we have learned concerning the consequences of critical illness and critical care. Development of outcome studies, what we have learned through them and our own experience will be outlined focusing mainly in four topics: mortality, physical disability, neuropsychological disability and health-related quality of life. Interventions to improve outcome on these main topics will be presented, and we will explain how we went from outcome studies to clinical interventions, focusing on the most recent proposals of intervention to improve outcome.
© 2012 The Authors. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica © 2012 The Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica Foundation.