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Intensive care diaries reduce new onset post traumatic stress disorder following critical illness: a randomised, controlled trial

Christina Jones12, Carl Bäckman3, Maurizia Capuzzo4, Ingrid Egerod5, Hans Flaatten6, Cristina Granja7, Christian Rylander8, Richard D Griffiths12* and the RACHEL group

Author Affiliations

1 ICU, Whiston Hospital, Warrington Road, Prescot L35 5DR, UK

2 Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, Duncan Building, Daulby Street, Liverpool L69 3GA, UK

3 ICU, Vrinnevisjukhuset, 25 Gamla Övägen, 601 82 Norrköping, Sweden

4 Section of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital of Ferrara, 203 Corso Giovecca, 44100 Ferrara, Italy

5 Rigshospitalet Dept. 7331, Blegdamsvej 9, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen DK-2100, Denmark

6 ICU, Haukeland University Hospital, 65 Jonas Liesvei, 5021 Bergen, Norway

7 ICU, Hospital Pedro Hispano, Rua Dr Eduardo Torres, 4454-509, Matosinhos, Portugal

8 ICU, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, SE-413 45 Gothenburg, Sweden

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Critical Care 2010, 14:R168  doi:10.1186/cc9260

Published: 15 September 2010



Patients recovering from critical illness have been shown to be at risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD). This study was to evaluate whether a prospectively collected diary of a patient's intensive care unit (ICU) stay when used during convalescence following critical illness will reduce the development of new onset PTSD.


Intensive care patients with an ICU stay of more than 72 hours were recruited to a randomised controlled trial examining the effect of a diary outlining the details of the patients ICU stay on the development of acute PTSD. The intervention patients received their ICU diary at 1 month following critical care discharge and the final assessment of the development of acute PTSD was made at 3 months.


352 patients were randomised to the study at 1 month. The incidence of new cases of PTSD was reduced in the intervention group compared to the control patients (5% versus 13%, P = 0.02).


The provision of an ICU diary is effective in aiding psychological recovery and reducing the incidence of new PTSD.

Trial registration