Surviving critical illness: acute respiratory distress syndrome as experienced by patients and their caregivers.

This study attempted to determine and characterize the effects of critical illness in the daily lives and functioning of acute respiratory distress syndrome survivors. Survivors and Caregivers were interviewed 3 to 9 months after intensive care admission. Participants related five key elements of experience as survivors of acute respiratory distress syndrome: 1) pervasive memories of critical care; 2) day-to-day impact of new disability; 3) critical illness defining the sense of self; 4) relationship strain and change; and 5) ability to cope with disability. Survivors described remarkable disability that persisted for months. Caregivers’ interviews revealed substantial strain from caregiving responsibilities as well as frequent symptom minimization by patients.

 The above five insights may aid the development of targeted interventions to enhance recovery and return of function after acute respiratory distress syndrome.


Cox CE, Docherty SL, Brandon DH, Whaley C, Attrix DK, Clay AS, Dore DV, Hough CL, White DB, Tulsky. Critical care Medicine, 2009; 37(10): 2702-8