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J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2018 Oct-Dec;9(4):522-528. doi: 10.4103/jnrp.jnrp_112_18.

Depressive and Anxiety Symptoms in Relatives of Intensive Care Unit Patients and the Perceived Need for Support.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University Hospital of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece.
Mobile Mental Health Unit of the Prefectures of Ioannina and Thesprotia, Society for the Promotion of Mental Health in Epirus, Ioannina, Greece.
Department of Cardiac Surgery, University Hospital of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece.
Intensive Care Unit, "G. Hatzikosta" General Hospital, Ioannina, Greece.



Admission of a patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the recovery process may be stressful for family members.


This study aimed to explore the families' psychological symptoms and their evolution over the 1st week of patients' ICU stay. Additional objectives were the estimation of the families' need for support and the estimation of satisfaction regarding the information provided by ICU physicians.


A total of 108 individuals were participated in the study. Participants were interviewed with the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale and filled the Beck Depression Scale II on days 1 and 7 of patients' ICU admission. They also filled a self-reported questionnaire which was created by the investigators, involving decision-making procedures; the satisfaction of the families of the patients' care; and the support of the families by medical and nursing staff.


Anxiety levels were not significantly different among 2-time points, whereas rates of depressive symptoms raised significantly from 38% (day 1) to 58.3% (day 7). In cases of anxiety changes, age, education, closeness of relationship, and APACHE II score were the factors been associated. Changes in depressive symptoms were not associated with any of those factors. Over a week, there were significant differences in relatives' views on participating in the decision-making procedure, and on expressing their opinion and concerns regarding the treatment process. Their attitudes about receiving support by the ICU personnel and even by mental health specialists, such as psychologists also changed.


Over the 1st week of ICU admission, depressive symptoms in patients' relatives were gradually evolving, while anxiety symptoms fluctuated and they were affected by the severity of the patients' condition. Attitudes toward treatment procedures and the perceived need for support also changed. These findings should be taken into account by the ICU personnel.


Anxiety; Intensive Care Unit; depression; relatives; support

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