An Exploratory Study of Long-Term Outcome Measures in Critical Illness Survivors: Construct Validity of Physical Activity, Frailty, and Health-Related Quality of Life Measures

Crit Care Med. 2016 Jun;44(6):e362-9. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000001645.


Objective: Functional capacity is commonly impaired after critical illness. We sought to clarify the relationship between objective measures of physical activity, self-reported measures of health-related quality of life, and clinician reported global functioning capacity (frailty) in such patients, as well as the impact of prior chronic disease status on these functional outcomes.

Design: Prospective outcome study of critical illness survivors.

Setting: Community-based follow-up.

Patients: Participants of the Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Study in Critical Care: Longitudinal Evaluation Study (NCT01106300), invasively ventilated for more than 48 hours and on the ICU greater than 7 days.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: Physical activity levels (health-related quality of life [36-item short-form health survey] and daily step counts [accelerometry]) were compared to norm-based or healthy control scores, respectively. Controls for frailty (Clinical Frailty Score) were non-morbid, age- and gender-matched to survivors. Ninety-one patients were recruited on ICU admission: 41 were contacted for post-discharge assessment, and data were collected from 30 (14 female; mean age, 55.3 yr [95% CI, 48.3-62.3]; mean post-discharge, 576 d [95% CI, 539-614]). Patients' mean daily step count (5,803; 95% CI, 4,792-6,813) was lower than that in controls (11,735; 95% CI, 10,928-12,542; p < 0.001), and lower in those with preexisting chronic disease than without (2,989 [95% CI, 776-5,201] vs 7,737 [95% CI, 4,907-10,567]; p = 0.013). Physical activity measures (accelerometry, health-related quality of life, and frailty) demonstrated good construct validity across all three tools. Step variability (from SD) was highly correlated with daily steps (r = 0.67; p < 0.01) demonstrating a potential boundary constraint.

Conclusions: Subjective and objective measures of physical activity are all informative in ICU survivors. They are all reduced 18 months post-discharge in ICU survivors, and worse in those with pre-admission chronic disease states. Investigating interventions to improve functional capacity in ICU survivors will require stratification based on the presence of premorbidity.

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Chronic Disease
  • Critical Illness*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Survivors*
  • Time Factors

Associated data