During the COVID-19 pandemic, suspension of visits by next of kin to patients in intensive care units (ICU), to prevent spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has been a common practice. This could impede established family-centered care and may affect the mental health of the next of kin. The aim of this study was to explore symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) in the next of kin of ICU patients.
In this prospective observational single-center study, next of kin of ICU patients were interviewed by telephone, using the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), to assess symptoms of acute stress disorder during the ICU stay and PTSD symptoms at 3 months after the ICU stay. The primary outcome was the prevalence of severe PTSD symptoms (IES-R score ≥ 33) at 3 months. The secondary outcomes comprised the IES-R scores during the ICU stay, at 3 months, and the prevalence of severe symptoms of acute stress disorder during ICU stay. An inductive content analysis was performed of the next of kin’s comments regarding satisfaction with patient care and the information they were given.
Of the 411 ICU patients admitted during the study period, 62 patients were included together with their next of kin. An IES-R score > 33 was observed in 90.3% (56/62) of next of kin during the ICU stay and in 69.4% (43/62) 3 months later.