Centre of Expertise Urban Vitality

Caregiver strain and posttraumatic stress symptoms of informal caregivers of intensive care unit survivors


<p>BACKGROUND: Many intensive care unit survivors (ICU) are confronted with undesirable and long-lasting impairments in physical, cognitive, and mental health, but not only patients are at risk of developing this post-intensive care syndrome (PICS). Family members can experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This cluster of complications is called PICS-family.</p><p>OBJECTIVE: To describe the level of caregiver strain and posttraumatic stress-related symptoms in relatives of ICU survivors.</p><p>METHODS: We conducted a cohort study in a general hospital between July 2010 and May 2014. Relatives of ICU survivors, mechanically ventilated for &gt; 48 h in the ICU, were asked to complete a questionnaire 3 months after discharge from critical care. Symptoms of PTSD and caregiving concerns were assessed using the Trauma Screening Questionnaire and the Caregiver Strain Index (CSI).</p><p>RESULTS: A total of 94 relatives visiting our post-ICU clinic completed the questionnaires. Twenty-one percent of the caregivers had a CSI score of 7 or more, indicating high levels of strain. Six percent had CSI scores indicating severe strain (CSI &gt; 10). PTSD-related symptoms were seen in 21% of the caregivers. The mean time spent on caregiving was 10 h (interquartile range 6-17 h) per week.</p><p>CONCLUSION: This study shows that relatives of ICU survivors could experience strain 3 months after hospital discharge and are at risk of developing PTSD-related symptoms. This complements existing data that relatives are at risk of psychological symptoms. Knowledge can lead to improvements and means to prevent these symptoms. (PsycINFO Database Record</p>

Reference van den Born-van Zanten, S. A., Dongelmans, D. A., Dettling-Ihnenfeldt, D., Vink, R., & van der Schaaf, M. (2016). Caregiver strain and posttraumatic stress symptoms of informal caregivers of intensive care unit survivors. Rehabilitation Psychology, 61(2), 173-178. https://doi.org/10.1037/rep0000081
1 May 2016

Publication date

May 2016


Sascha A. van den Born-van Zanten
Dave A. Dongelmans
Daniela Dettling-Ihnenfeldt
Roel Vink

Research database