Peter Schenk and Joanna Warszawska contributed equally.
The aim of the study was to determine if health-related quality of life of long-term survivors changes 24 months after intensive care treatment compared to the quality of life before admission.
From 281 patients treated at the ICU in 2001, 132 survivors were contacted by phone on average 24 months after discharge. Fernandez questionnaire was used to assess preadmission quality of life prospectively and postdischarge quality of life, retrospectively. In addition, age, sex, admission diagnosis, ICU length of stay, presence of organ failure, and necessity of mechanical ventilation were determined.
In the 101 ICU survivors who responded to the questionnaire, the total score of quality of life did not change significantly over time (5.48 ± 5.3 before admission vs. 5.6 ± 5.8 at follow-up; p = 0.9). Similarly, the performance of normal daily activities did not alter (3.0 ± 3.5 vs. 3.39 ± 3.6; p = 0,3). In contrast, the ability to perform basic physiological activities worsened significantly (0.39 ± 0.76 vs. 0.76 ± 1.52; p = 0.037), whereas the emotional state improved significantly after intensive care treatment (2.08 ± 1.78 vs. 1.46 ± 1.56, p = 0.003). In a stepwise multiple regression analysis the total score of quality of life before admission was the only variable which influenced the quality of life 2 years after ICU-stay.
In the interviewed population the total score of health-related quality of life did not change after intensive care treatment. Surprisingly, emotional state improved significantly although physical performance decreased. Quality of life after ICU discharge was predominantly influenced by preadmission quality of life. However, these results are not reflective of all ICU survivors.