McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Derek Angus, MD, MPH (pictured), professor in Critical Care Medicine as well as Health Policy and Management at the University of Pittsburgh, and researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and University of California, San Francisco, recently reported that family members may experience post-traumatic stress for as long as 6 months after a loved one’s stay in the intensive care unit (ICU). The study found that symptoms of anxiety and depression in family members of ICU patients diminished over time, but high rates of post-traumatic stress and complicated grief remained.
The study included 50 family members of patients who were admitted to the ICU. Researchers measured family members’ level of anxiety and depression in the ICU and at 1- and 6-month follow-up. They also measured symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and complicated grief during the 6-month follow-up interview.
Forty-two percent of family members exhibited symptoms of anxiety in the ICU. This percentage dropped to 15 percent at 6-month follow-up. Likewise, 16 percent of family members displayed depression in the ICU that dropped to 6 percent at 6 months.
At 6-month follow-up, 35 percent of all family members had post-traumatic stress while 46 percent of family members of patients who died had complicated grief. Surprisingly, post-traumatic stress was not more common in bereaved than non-bereaved family members.
“As doctors, we tend to think only of the patient in an intensive care situation,” said Wendy Anderson, M.D., lead author and assistant professor, Division of Hospital Medicine, University of California, San Francisco. “Our results show that family members can be greatly influenced by a patient’s ICU stay, and that this impact persists after the patient leaves the ICU.”
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
UPMC Media Relations (09/22/08)
Science Daily (09/22/08)
Bio: Derek Angus, MD, MPH
Abstract (Journal of General Internal Medicine; (09/09/08))