Background: Family members of patients admitted to the ICU experience a constellation of sequelae described as postintensive care syndrome-family. The influence that an inter-ICU transfer has on psychological outcomes is unknown. Research Question: Is inter-ICU transfer associated with poor psychological outcomes in families of patients with acute respiratory failure? Study Design and Methods: Cross-sectional observational study of 82 families of patients admitted to adult ICUs (tertiary hospital). Data included demographics, admission source, and outcomes. Admission source was classified as inter-ICU transfer (n = 39) for patients admitted to the ICU from other hospitals and direct admit (n = 43) for patients admitted from the ED or the operating room of the same hospital. We used quantitative surveys to evaluate psychological distress (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]) and posttraumatic stress (Post-Traumatic Stress Scale; PTSS) and examined clinical, family, and satisfaction factors associated with psychological outcomes. Results: Families of transferred patients travelled longer distances (mean ± SD, 109 ± 106 miles) compared with those of patients directly admitted (mean ± SD, 65 ± 156 miles; P ≤ .0001). Transferred patients predominantly were admitted to the neuro-ICU (64%), had a longer length of stay (direct admits: mean ± SD, 12.7 ± 9.3 days; transferred patients: mean ± SD, 17.6 ± 9.3 days; P < .01), and a higher number of ventilator days (direct admits: mean ± SD, 6.9 ± 8.6 days; transferred: mean ± SD, 10.6 ± 9.0 days; P < .01). Additionally, they were less likely to be discharged home (direct admits, 63%; transferred, 33%; P = .08). In a fully adjusted model of psychological distress and posttraumatic stress, family members of transferred patients were found to have a 1.74-point (95% CI, –1.08 to 5.29; P = .30) higher HADS score and a 5.19-point (95% CI, 0.35-10.03; P = .03) higher PTSS score than those of directly admitted family members. Interpretation: In this exploratory study, posttraumatic stress measured by the PTSS was higher in the transferred families, but these findings will need to be replicated to infer clinical significance.
- critical illness
- family member of ICU patients
- psychological distress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine