Preventing posttraumatic stress in ICU survivors: A single-center pilot randomized controlled trial of ICU diaries and psychoeducation

Maia S. Kredentser, Marcus Blouw, Nicole Marten, Jitender Sareen, O. Joseph Bienvenu, Jennifer Ryu, Brooke E. Beatie, Sarvesh Logsetty, Lesley A. Graff, Shauna Eggertson, Sophia Sweatman, Braeden Debroni, Nina Cianflone, Rakesh C. Arora, Ryan Zarychanski, Kendiss Olafson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Critical illness can have a significant psychological impact on patients and their families. To inform the design of a larger trial, we assessed feasibility of ICU diaries and psychoeducation to prevent posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety following ICU stays. Design: Four-arm pilot randomized controlled trial. Setting: A 10-bed tertiary ICU in Winnipeg, MB, Canada. Patients: Critically ill patients greater than 17 years old with predicted ICU stays greater than 72 hours and mechanical ventilation duration greater than 24 hours. Interventions: Patients were randomized to usual care, ICU diary, psychoeducation, or both ICU diary and psychoeducation. Measurements and Main Results: Our primary objective was to determine feasibility measured by enrollment/mo. Secondary outcomes included acceptability of the ICU diary intervention and psychological distress, including patients' memories 1 week post ICU using the ICU Memory Tool, posttraumatic stress disorder (Impact of Events Scale-Revised), depression, and anxiety symptoms (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) 30 and 90 days post ICU. Over 3.5 years, we enrolled 58 patients, an average of 1.9 participants/mo. Families and healthcare providers wrote a mean of 3.2 diary entries/d (sd, 2.9) and indicated positive attitudes and low perceived burden toward ICU diary participation. A majority of patients reported distressing memories of their ICU stay. Those who received the diary intervention had significantly lower median Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale anxiety (3.0 [interquartile range, 2-6.25] vs 8.0 [interquartile range, 7-10]; p = 0.01) and depression (3.0 [interquartile range, 1.75-5.25] vs 5.0 [interquartile range, 4-9]; p = 0.04) symptom scores at 90 days than patients who did not receive a diary. Conclusions: ICU diaries are a feasible intervention in a tertiary Canadian ICU context. Preliminary evidence supports the efficacy of ICU diaries to reduce psychological morbidity following discharge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1914-1922
Number of pages9
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2018


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Intensive care
  • Intensive care unit diaries
  • Postintensive care syndrome
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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