Women are more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress than men after leaving an intensive care unit (ICU), according to new research. The research also found that follow-up care — both psychological and physical — can reduce not only the stress, but also post-ICU depression.
According to researchers, patients who have been in an ICU often suffer post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or depression due not only to the illness or trauma that put them there, but to the very nature of the ICU and life-saving treatment.
Researchers from the Karolinska University Hospital Solna and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden compared patients’ recovery from 2006, before a follow-up program was started, with that of patients in 2007 and 2008.
The follow-up consisted of non-compulsory meetings at three, six and 12 months after being discharged from the ICU with a nurse, physician, and a physiotherapist, as well as revisiting the ICU. In severe cases, patients were referred to a psychiatric unit for further therapy.
Before the follow-up program went into place, women had much higher scores on the Impact Event Scale (IES), which measures post-traumatic stress, than men. After the introduction of follow-up, women’s scores were significantly reduced, the researchers noted. However, the follow-up program had no effect on the IES score of men.
“In general, for the same event, women are twice as likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, recover more slowly, and are more prone to suffer long-term effects,” said Dr. Peter Sackey, who led this study, which was published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Critical Care.
“We found this was also true in ICU survivors. The women with the highest IES scores were the ones who were most helped by the follow-up scheme. While it is not clear whether the scheme only helps patients at severe risk of PTSD, it does mean that these people have access to the treatment they need.”
Source: BioMed Central