Long-term health-related quality of life and burden of disease after intensive care: development of a patient-reported outcome measure

Crit Care. 2021 Feb 25;25(1):82. doi: 10.1186/s13054-021-03496-7.


Background: ICU survivorship includes a diverse burden of disease. Current questionnaires used for collecting information about health-related problems and their relation to quality of life lack detailed questions in several areas relevant to ICU survivors. Our aim was to construct a provisional questionnaire on health-related issues based on interviews with ICU survivors and to test if this questionnaire was able to show differences between ICU survivors and a control group.

Methods: Thirty-two ICU survivors were identified at a post-ICU clinic and interviewed at least six months after ICU discharge. Using an established qualitative methodology from oncology, all dysfunctions and disabilities were extracted, rephrased as questions and compiled into a provisional questionnaire. In a second part, this questionnaire was tested on ICU survivors and controls. Inclusion criteria for the ICU survivors were ICU stay at least 72 h with ICU discharge six months to three years prior to the study. A non-ICU-treated control group was obtained from the Swedish Population Register, matched for age and sex. Eligible participants received an invitation letter and were contacted by phone. If willing to participate, they were sent the questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were applied.

Results: Analysis of the interviews yielded 238 questions in 13 domains: cognition, fatigue, physical health, pain, psychological health, activities of daily living, sleep, appetite and alcohol, sexual health, sensory functions, gastrointestinal functions, urinary functions and work life. In the second part, 395 of 518 ICU survivors and 197 of 231 controls returned a completed questionnaire, the response rates being 76.2% and 85.3%, respectively. The two groups differed significantly in 13 of 22 comorbidities. ICU survivors differed in a majority of questions (p ≤ 0.05) distributed over all 13 domains compared with controls.

Conclusions: This study describes the development of a provisional questionnaire to identify health-related quality of life issues and long-term burden of disease after intensive care. The questionnaire was answered by 395 ICU survivors. The questionnaire could identify that they experience severe difficulties in a wide range of domains compared with a control group. Trial registry ClinicalTrials.gov Ref# NCT02767180.

Keywords: Critical care; Critical illness; Follow-up studies; Intensive care unit; Long-term adverse effects; Patient-reported outcome; Quality of life; Questionnaire; Survivors; Survivorship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cost of Illness
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration
  • Intensive Care Units / standards
  • Interviews as Topic / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • Sweden
  • Time*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02767180