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Am J Crit Care. 2008 Nov;17(6):534-43; quiz 544.

Symptoms of acute posttraumatic stress disorder after intensive care.

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Research Centre for Clinical Practice Innovation, Griffith University Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.



Admission to intensive care is often a sudden and unexpected event precipitated by a life-threatening condition, 2 determinants thought to influence the development of posttraumatic stress disorder.


To identify the frequency of acute symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and to describe factors predictive of these symptoms in patients 1 month after discharge from intensive care.


In this prospective cohort study, all patients meeting the inclusion criteria during the study period were invited to participate. Participants completed the Impact of Event Scale-Revised, and demographic and clinical data were accessed from an intensive care unit database.


During a 9-month period, 114 of 137 patients who met the inclusion criteria consented to participate in the study, and 100 (88%) completed it. The mean total score on the Impact of Event Scale-Revised was 17.8 (SD, 13.4; possible range, 0-88). A total of 13 participants (13%) scored higher than the cutoff score for clinical posttraumatic stress disorder. Neither sex nor length of stay was predictive of acute symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In multivariate analysis, the only independent predictor of symptoms was age. Patients younger than 65 years were 5.6 times (95% confidence interval, 1.17-26.89) more likely than those 65 years and older to report symptoms.


The rate of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder 1 month after discharge from intensive care was relatively low. Consistent with findings of previous research, being younger than 65 years was the only independent predictor of symptoms.

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