Intensive care diaries to promote recovery for patients and families after critical illness: a Cochrane Systematic Review

Amanda J. Ullman (Lead / Corresponding author), Leanne M. Aitken, Janice Rattray, Justin Kenardy, Robyne Le Brocque, Stephen MacGillivray, Alastair M. Hull

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    OBJECTIVES: To assess the effect of an intensive care unit (ICU) diary versus no ICU diary on patients, and their caregivers or families, during the patient's recovery from admission to an ICU.

    DESIGN: Systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and clinical controlled trials.

    DATA SOURCES: CENTRAL, MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, PILOT; Web of Science Conference Proceedings, clinical trial registries and reference lists of identified trials.

    REVIEW METHODS: Studies evaluated the effectiveness of patient diaries, when compared to no ICU diary, for patients or family members to promote recovery after admission to ICU were included. Outcome measures for describing recovery from ICU included the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress symptomatology, health-related quality of life and costs. We used standard methodological approaches as expected by The Cochrane Collaboration. Two review authors independently reviewed titles for inclusion, extracted data and undertook risk of bias according to pre-specified criteria.

    RESULTS: We identified three eligible studies; two describing ICU patients (N=358), and one describing relatives of ICU patients (N=30). No study adequately reported on risk of PTSD as described using a clinical interview, family or caregiver anxiety or depression, health-related quality of life or costs. Within a single study there was no clear evidence of a difference in risk for developing anxiety (RR 0.29, 95% CI 0.07-1.19) or depression (RR 0.38, 95% CI 0.12-1.19) in participants who received ICU diaries, in comparison to those that did not receive a patient diary. Within a single study there was no evidence of difference in median post-traumatic stress symptomatology scores (diaries 24, SD 11.6; no diary 24, SD 11.6) and delusional ICU memory recall (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.84-1.28) between the patients recovering from ICU admission who received patient diaries, and those who did not. One study reported reduced post-traumatic stress symptomatology in family members of patients recovering from admission to ICU who received patient diaries (median 19; range 14-28), in comparison to no diary (median 28; range 14-38).

    CONCLUSIONS: Currently there is minimal evidence from RCTs of the benefits or harms of patient diaries for patients and their caregivers or family members. A small study has described their potential to reduce post-traumatic stress symptomatology in family members. However, there is currently inadequate evidence to support their effectiveness in improving psychological recovery after critical illness for patients and their family members.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1243-1253
    Number of pages11
    JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
    Issue number7
    Early online date4 Apr 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


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