Health-related quality of life in Australian survivors of critical illness*
Objective: To document health-related quality of life of an Australian sample of intensive care unit survivors 6 months after intensive care unit discharge and compare this with preadmission health-related quality of life, health-related quality of life of national population norms, and international samples of intensive care unit survivors.
Design: Prospective observational single-center study.
Setting: Eighteen-bed medical–surgical tertiary intensive care unit of an Australian metropolitan hospital.
Patients: Of the 122 eligible patients, 100 were recruited (intensive care unit length of stay >48 hrs, age >18 yrs, not imminently at risk of death) and the final sample comprised 67 patients, age (median [interquartile range], 61 yrs [49–73 yrs]), 60% male admitted to the intensive care unit for a median [interquartile range] 101 hrs (68–149 hrs). Normative age- and sex-matched Australian Short-Form 36 data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, selected international cohorts of intensive care unit survivors, and their respective national age-matched normative data were included for comparison.
Measurements and Main Results: Sixty-seven participants provided responses to questions rating health-related quality of life (Australian Short-Form 36) at preadmission (on admission to the intensive care unit or through retrospective recall as soon as able) and 6 months after intensive care unit discharge. Ten additional participants were unable to provide study data without proxy input and were excluded from analysis. Participants reported clinically meaningful improvements in bodily pain (p = .001), social functioning (p = .03), role–emotional domains of the Short-Form 36 (p = .04), and mental component summary score (p = .01) at 6 months after intensive care unit discharge, mostly attributable to the patients undergoing cardiac surgery, whereas remaining Short-Form 36 domains showed no difference between preadmission and 6 months (p > .05). Participants reported clinically meaningful decrements in preadmission Short-Form 36 data compared with the Australian normative population with role–physical (p < .001) and physical functioning (p < .001) most affected at follow-up. Health-related quality of life in this sample was comparable with international samples of intensive care unit survivors.
Conclusions: Although the majority of health-related quality of life domains did not differ between preadmission and 6-month follow-up, participants reported significant and clinically meaningful improvements in pain and mental health at follow-up. Critical illness survivors’ health-related quality of life remained within 1 sd of Australian norms at follow-up and physical function health-related quality of life was most affected. Health-related quality of life in these Australian survivors of the intensive care unit was comparable with international survivors 6 months after intensive care unit admission.