Objectives: To describe the influence of critical illness on patients and their partners in relation to rehabilitation, healthcare consumption and employment during the first year after Intensive Care Unit discharge.
Design: Longitudinal, observational and descriptive.
Setting: Five Danish Intensive Care Units.
Methods: Data were collected from hospital charts, population registers and interviews with 18 patients and their partners at 3 and 12 months after intensive care discharge. Descriptive statistical analysis was performed.
Results: Post-discharge inpatient rehabilitation was median (range) 52 (15-174) days (n=10). Community-based training was 12 (3-34) weeks (n=15). Neuropsychological rehabilitation following brain damage was 13-20 weeks (n=3). Number of out-patient visits 1 year before and 1 year after were mean 3 versus 8, and General Practitioner visits were 12 versus 18. Three patients resumed work at pre-hospitalisation employment rates after 12 months. After the patients' stay in intensive care, partners' mean full-time sick leave was 17 (range 0-124) days and 21 (range 0-106) days part time. Partners often had long commutes.
Conclusion: Most patients had comprehensive recovery needs requiring months of rehabilitation. Some partners needed extensive sick leave. The study reveals the human cost of critical illness and intensive care for patients and partners in the Danish welfare system.
Keywords: Caregivers; Family; Intensive care; Recovery; Rehabilitation.
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