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Application of the Italian version of the Intensive Care Unit Memory tool in the clinical setting

Maurizia Capuzzo1*, Vanna Valpondi1, Emiliano Cingolani1, Serena De Luca1, Giovanna Gianstefani1, Luigi Grassi2 and Raffaele Alvisi1

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Doctor, Department of Surgical, Anaesthetic and Radiological Sciences, Section of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, University Hospital of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

2 Medical Doctor, Department of Medical Sciences of Communication and Behaviour, Section of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

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Critical Care 2004, 8:R48-R55  doi:10.1186/cc2416

Published: 24 December 2003



The aims of the present study were to assess patients' memories of their stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) over time, using the Italian version of the ICU Memory (ICUM) tool, and to examine the relationship between memory and duration of ICU stay and infection.

Patients and method

Adult patients consecutively admitted to a four-bed ICU of a university hospital, whose stay in the ICU was at least 3 days, were prospectively studied. The ICUM tool was administered twice: face to face 1 week after ICU discharge to 93 patients (successfully in 87); and by phone after 3 months to 67 patients. Stability of memories over time was analyzed using Kappa statistics.


Delusional memories appeared to be the most persistent recollections over time (minimum κ value = 0.68), followed by feelings (κ value > 0.7 in three out of six memories) and factual memories (κ value > 0.7 in three out of 11 memories). The patients without a clear memory of their stay in the ICU reported a greater number of delusional memories than did those with a clear memory. Of patients without infection 35% had one or two delusional memories, and 60% of patients with infection had one to four delusional memories (P = 0.029).


The ICUM tool is of value in a setting and language different from those in which it was created and used. Delusional memories are the most stable recollections, and are frequently associated both with lack of clear memory of ICU experience and with presence of infection during ICU stay.

critical care; intensive care; memory; mental recall