More on PTSD and the ICU

ICU stays are stressful on everyone: patients and family members.  We have written about the stress of an ICU stay not only on patients, but on caregivers several times on this blog. We have specifically discussed depression in patients post ICU-stay, and PTSD for parents of pediatric patients and family members of adult patients.

Another study has just been published shedding further light on PTSD and family members. The study, in the June 2015 issue of Critical Care Medicine, specifically evaluated 77 decision-makers and their levels of PTSD as it related to their coping style 60 days post-stay. The study examined 3 types of coping styles and how coping style affected stress levels and likelihood of PTSD.  The three types of coping studied were decision-makers who practiced:  avoidant coping, emotion-focused coping, and problem-focused coping.

Avoidant coping, is just that:  coping by simply avoiding the decisions to be made.  Individuals who use emotion-focused coping seek emotional support from others, may make jokes to lighten the mood and/or attempt to view the situation in a different way.  People who use problem-focused coping tend to gather information, make a plan and/or ask for help.

The results are not surprising.  As you’d imagine, people who don’t cope well with making decisions (ie, avoid making decisions), don’t cope well afterwards, either.

In short:

-42% of the decision-makers showed clinically significant PTSD symptoms;

-decision-makers who practiced avoidant coping showed higher levels of PTSD;

-but death was a strong predictor of PTSD, regardless of the decision-maker’s coping style.




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