Dr Kimberley Haines1, Associate Professor Sue Berney2, Dr Stephen Warrillow2, Professor Linda Denehy3
1Western Health, Melbourne, Australia, 2Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia, 3The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Aim: To investigate the prevalence and short-term trajectory of psychological morbidity in informal caregivers of the critically ill.
Methods: Multi-site, prospective observational study of caregivers of patients mechanically ventilated >48 hours. Outcomes measures collected at intensive care unit (ICU) admission, hospital discharge, two-month follow-up: Depression (Center for Epidemiological Studies – Depression), Anxiety (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), Mastery (Pearlin’s Mastery Scale); HRQoL (Short-Form 36 v2 – SF36v2), PTSD (Impact of Events Scale – two-months only). Preliminary results are presented descriptively for n = 40.
Results: Caregivers were mainly female, spouses, mean age of 54 ± 15, and no pre-existing psychology. Caregiver psychological morbidity was highest during ICU and decreased over time. During ICU, 63% experienced clinically significant symptoms of depression, reducing to 30% at hospital discharge and 15% at two-months. Forty-eight percent experienced clinically significant symptoms of anxiety during ICU, reducing to 15% by follow-up. The highest proportion (38%) of caregivers experienced low self-mastery scores at hospital discharge.
HRQoL mental health was most affected with mean SF-36v2 mental component summary scores of 44 ± 13, 40 ± 16, 48 ± 10 over time. At two-months, 33% of caregivers experienced clinically significant PTSD symptoms.
Conclusions: We provide for the first time comprehensive psychosocial trajectory data among non-bereaved caregivers. Psychosocial morbidity was greatest during ICU and decreased over time, although more than a third of informal caregivers experience PTSD at two-month follow-up.
Significance of findings to Allied Health: These data are important as caregiver well-being may impact patient recovery. These results indicate when caregivers are most at risk, informing clinical care and future interventional studies.