For a study, researchers sought to investigate the relationship between patient hospitalization for COVID-19 ARDS vs ARDS from other causes and the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)–related symptoms in family members. Prospective cohort research was conducted in 23 intensive care units (ICUs) in France (January 2020 to June 2020 with final follow-up ending in October 2020). ARDS survivors and family members (1 family member per patient) were enlisted. Family members of patients hospitalized for ARDS caused by COVID-19 versus ARDS caused by other causes.

The primary outcome was family member PTSD symptoms 90 days following ICU release, as evaluated by the Impact of Events Scale-Revised (score range, 0 [best] to 88 [worst]; the presence of PTSD symptoms indicated by score >22). The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (score range, 0 [best] to 42 [worst]; the presence of anxiety or depression symptoms indicated by subscale scores 7) was used to assess family member symptoms of anxiety and depression after 90 days. The link between COVID-19 status and outcomes was investigated using multivariable logistic regression models.

About 517 (86%) family members (median [IQR] age, 51 [40-63] years; 72% women; 48% spouses; 26% bereaved because of the study patient’s death; 303 [50%] family members of COVID-19 patients) and 273 (89%) patients (median [IQR] age, 61 [50-69] years; 34% women; 181 [59%] with COVID-19) completed the day-90 assessment. Family members of patients with COVID-19 ARDS had a significantly higher prevalence of symptoms of PTSD (35% [103/293] vs 19% [40/211]; difference, 16% [95% CI, 8% 24 %]; P<.001), symptoms of anxiety (41%[121/294] vs 34% [70/207]; difference, 8% [95% CI, 0% -16%]; P=.05), and symptoms of depression COVID-19 ARDS was substantially linked with an elevated risk of PTSD-related symptoms in family members in multivariable models that adjusted for age, gender, and amount of social support (odds ratio, 2.05 [95% CI, 1.30 to 3.23]).

When compared to other causes of ARDS, COVID-19 illness was substantially related to an elevated incidence of PTSD symptoms 90 days after ICU discharge among family members of patients hospitalized in the ICU with ARDS.