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Crit Care. 2011;15(1):R41. doi: 10.1186/cc10003. Epub 2011 Jan 27.

Early intra-intensive care unit psychological intervention promotes recovery from post traumatic stress disorders, anxiety and depression symptoms in critically ill patients.

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  • 1Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Unit of Emergency Department, Careggi Teaching Hospital, Largo Brambilla 3, I-50139 Florence, Italy.

Erratum in

  • Crit Care. 2011;15(2):418. Trevisan, Monica [added].



Critically ill patients who require intensive care unit (ICU) treatment may experience psychological distress with increasing development of psychological disorders and related morbidity. Our aim was to determine whether intra-ICU clinical psychologist interventions decrease the prevalence of anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after 12 months from ICU discharge.


Our observational study included critical patients admitted before clinical psychologist intervention (control group) and patients who were involved in a clinical psychologist program (intervention group). The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Impact of Event Scale-Revised questionnaires were used to assess the level of posttraumatic stress, anxiety and depression symptoms.


The control and intervention groups showed similar demographic and clinical characteristics. Patients in the intervention group showed lower rates of anxiety (8.9% vs. 17.4%) and depression (6.5% vs. 12.8%) than the control group on the basis of HADS scores, even if the differences were not statistically significant. High risk for PTSD was significantly lower in patients receiving early clinical psychologist support than in the control group (21.1% vs. 57%; P < 0.0001). The percentage of patients who needed psychiatric medications at 12 months was significantly higher in the control group than in the patient group (41.7% vs. 8.1%; P < 0.0001).


Our results suggest that that early intra-ICU clinical psychologist intervention may help critically ill trauma patients recover from this stressful experience.

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