Psychological problems following ICU treatment*


  • P. Scragg,

    1. Chartered Clinical Psychologist, Sub-Department of Clinical Health Psychology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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  • A. Jones,

    1. Clinical Psychologist, Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust, Thomas Edward Mitton House, Belvoir Avenue, Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes MK4 2JA, UK
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  • N. Fauvel

    1. Consultant Anaesthetist and Intensivist, Magill Department of Anaesthesia, Critical Care Medicine and Pain Management, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London SW10 9NH, UK
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Dr N. Fauvel*Study undertaken at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital


Treatment in an intensive care unit can be stressful and may leave patients with persisting psychological symptoms that impair quality of life. This postal questionnaire study of patients who had previously been treated in a general adult intensive care unit showed that 38 (47%) of 80 patients who returned fully completed questionnaires reported clinically significant anxiety and depression as measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Thirty (38%) reported significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, of whom 12 (15%) reached levels consistent with a diagnosis of full post-traumatic stress disorder as measured by the Trauma Symptom Checklist 33 and the Impact of Events Scale. We describe a new measure of psychological distress specifically related to the experience of intensive care management, the Experience after Treatment in Intensive Care 7 Item Scale, and compare it to the other scales. The Experience after Treatment in Intensive Care 7 Item Scale shows that at least a proportion of the post-traumatic stress reported was directly attributable to the experience of treatment in the intensive care unit.