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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Health-related quality of life scores after intensive care are almost equal to those of the normal population: a multicenter observational study

Lotti Orwelius12*, Mats Fredrikson2, Margareta Kristenson3, Sten Walther3 and Folke Sjöberg124

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Intensive Care, Linköping University/County Council, Linköping, Sweden

2 Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linköping University/County Council, Linköping, Sweden

3 Medicine and Health Sciences, Linköping University/County Council, Linköping, Sweden

4 Burns, Hand and Plastic Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University/County Council, Linköping, Sweden

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Critical Care 2013, 17:R236  doi:10.1186/cc13059

Published: 13 October 2013

Abstract

Introduction

Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients treated in intensive care has been reported to be lower compared with age- and sex-adjusted control groups. Our aim was to test whether stratifying for coexisting conditions would reduce observed differences in HRQoL between patients treated in the ICU and a control group from the normal population. We also wanted to characterize the ICU patients with the lowest HRQoL within these strata.

Methods

We did a cross-sectional comparison of scores of the short-form health survey (SF-36) questionnaire in a multicenter study of patients treated in the ICU (n = 780) and those from a local public health survey (n = 6,093). Analyses were in both groups adjusted for age and sex, and data stratified for coexisting conditions. Within each stratum, patients with low scores (below -2 SD of the control group) were identified and characterized.

Results

After adjustment, there were minor and insignificant differences in mean SF-36 scores between patients and controls. Eight (n = 18) and 22% (n = 51) of the patients had low scores (-2 SD of the control group) in the physical and mental dimensions of SF-36, respectively. Patients with low scores were usually male, single, on sick leave before admission to critical care, and survived a shorter time after being in ICU.

Conclusions

After adjusting for age, sex, and coexisting conditions, mean HRQoL scores were almost equal in patients and controls. Up to 22% (n = 51) of the patients had, however, a poor quality of life as compared with the controls (-2 SD). This group, which more often consisted of single men, individuals who were on sick leave before admission to the ICU, had an increased mortality after ICU. This group should be a target for future support.