Impact of an intensive care unit diary on psychological distress in patients and relatives*

Crit Care Med. 2012 Jul;40(7):2033-40. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e31824e1b43.


Objective: To assess the impact of an intensive care unit diary on the psychological well-being of patients and relatives 3 and 12 months after intensive care unit discharge.

Design: Prospective single-center study with an intervention period between two control periods.

Setting: Medical-surgical intensive care unit in a 460-bed tertiary hospital.

Patients: Consecutive patients from May 2008 to November 2009 and their relatives. Study inclusion occurred after the fourth day in the intensive care unit.

Interventions: A diary written by both the patient's relatives and the intensive care unit staff.

Measurements and main results: Patients and relatives completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and Peritraumatic Dissociative Experiences Questionnaire 3 months after intensive care unit discharge, and completed the Impact of Events Scale assessing posttraumatic stress-related symptoms 12 months after intensive care unit discharge. Of the 378 patients admitted during the study period, 143 were included (48 in the prediary period, 49 in the diary period, and 46 in the postdiary period). In relatives, severe posttraumatic stress-related symptoms after 12 months varied significantly across periods (prediary 80%, diary 31.7%, postdiary 67.6%; p<.0001). Similar results were obtained in the posttraumatic stress-related symptom score after 12 months in the surviving patients (prediary 34.6 ± 15.9, diary 21 ± 12.2, and postdiary 29.8 ± 15.9; p = .02).

Conclusions: The intensive care unit diary significantly affected posttraumatic stress-related symptoms in relatives and surviving patients 12 months after intensive care unit discharge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Delphi Technique
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Medical Records*
  • Medical Staff, Hospital
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital
  • Patient Discharge
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / prevention & control*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Writing*