BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a major influx of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions. Currently, there is limited knowledge on the long-term outcomes of COVID-19 ICU-survivors and the impact on family members. This study aimed to gain an insight into the long-term physical, social and psychological functioning of COVID-19 ICU-survivors and their family members at three- and six-months following ICU discharge.
METHODS: A single-center, prospective cohort study was conducted among COVID-19 ICU-survivors and their family members. Participants received questionnaires at three and six months after ICU discharge. Physical functioning was evaluated using the MOS Short-Form General Health Survey, Clinical Frailty Scale and spirometry tests. Social functioning was determined using the McMaster Family Assessment Device and return to work. Psychological functioning was assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
RESULTS: Sixty COVID-19 ICU-survivors and 78 family members participated in this study. Physical functioning was impaired in ICU-survivors as reflected by a score of 33.3 (IQR 16.7-66.7) and 50 (IQR 16.7-83.3) out of 100 at 3- and 6-month follow-ups, respectively. Ninety percent of ICU-survivors reported persistent symptoms after 6 months. Social functioning was impaired since 90% of COVID-19 ICU-survivors had not reached their pre-ICU work level 6 months after ICU-discharge. Psychological functioning was unaffected in COVID-19 ICU-survivors. Family members experienced worse work status in 35% and 34% of cases, including a decrease in work rate among 18.3% and 7.4% of cases at 3- and 6-months post ICU-discharge, respectively. Psychologically, 63% of family members reported ongoing impaired well-being due to the COVID-19-related mandatory physical distance from their relatives.
CONCLUSION: COVID-19 ICU-survivors suffer from a prolonged disease burden, which is prominent in physical and social functioning, work status and persisting symptoms among 90% of patients. Family members reported a reduction in return to work and impaired well-being. Further research is needed to extend the follow-up period and study the effects of standardized rehabilitation in COVID-19 patients and their family members.
- intensive care units
- long term
- family members