The use of diaries in psychological recovery from intensive care

Leanne M Aitken, Janice Rattray, Alastair Hull, Justin A Kenardy, Robyne Le Brocque, Amanda J Ullman

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    50 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Intensive care patients frequently experience memory loss, nightmares, and delusional memories and some may develop symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. The use of diaries is emerging as a putative tool to 'fill the memory gaps' and promote psychological recovery. In this review, we critically analyze the available literature regarding the use and impact of diaries for intensive care patients specifically to examine the impact of diaries on intensive care patients' recovery. Diversity of practice in regard to the structure, content, and process elements of diaries for intensive care patients exists and emphasizes the lack of an underpinning psychological conceptualization. The use of diaries as an intervention to aid psychological recovery in intensive care patients has been examined in 11 studies, including two randomized controlled trials. Inconsistencies exist in sample characteristics, study outcomes, study methods, and the diary intervention itself, limiting the amount of comparison that is possible between studies. Measurement of the impact of the diary intervention on patient outcomes has been limited in both scope and time frame. Furthermore, an underpinning conceptualization or rationale for diaries as an intervention has not been articulated or tested. Given these significant limitations, although findings tend to be positive, implementation as routine clinical practice should not occur until a body of evidence is developed to inform methodological considerations and confirm proposed benefits.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number253
    JournalCritical Care
    Volume17
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2013

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