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Background: During intensive care unit (ICU) admission, patients experience extreme physical and psychological stressors, including the abnormal ICU environment. These experiences impact on a patient's recovery from critical illness and may result in both physical and psychological disorders. One strategy that has been developed and implemented by clinical staffto treat the psychological distress prevalent in ICU survivors is the use of patient diaries. These provide a background to the cause of the patient's ICU admission and an ongoing narrative outlining day-to-day activities. Objectives: To assess the effect of a diary versus no diary on patients, and their caregivers or families, during the patient's recovery from admission to an ICU. Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2014, Issue 1), Ovid MEDLINE (1950 to January 2014), EBSCOhost CINAHL (1982 to January 2014), Ovid EMBASE (1980 to January 2014), PsycINFO (1950 to January 2014), Published International Literature on Traumatic Stress (PILOTS) database (1971 to January 2014); Web of Science Conference Proceedings Citation Index - Science and Social Science and Humanities (1990 to January 2014); seven clinical trial registries and reference lists of identified trials. We applied no language restriction. Selection criteria: We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or clinical controlled trials (CCTs) that evaluated the effectiveness of patient diaries, when compared to no ICU diary, for patients or family members to promote recovery after admission to ICU. Outcome measures for describing recovery from ICU included the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress symptomatology, health-related quality of life and costs. Data collection and analysis: We used standard methodological approaches as expected by The Cochrane Collaboration. Two review authors independently reviewed titles for inclusion, extracted data and undertook risk of bias according to prespecified criteria. Main results: We identified three eligible studies; two describing ICU patients (N = 358), and one describing relatives of ICU patients (N = 30). The study involving relatives of ICU patients was a substudy of family members from one of the ICU patient studies. There was a mixed risk of bias within the included studies. Blinding of participants to allocation was not possible and blinding of the outcome assessment was not adequately achieved or reported. Overall the quality of the evidence was low to very low. The patient diary intervention was not identical between studies. However, each provided a prospectively prepared, day-to-day description of the participants' ICU admission. No study adequately reported on risk of PTSD as described using a clinical interview, family or caregiver anxiety or depression, health-related quality of life or costs. Within a single study there was no clear evidence of a difference in risk for developing anxiety (risk ratio (RR) 0.29, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.07 to 1.19) or depression (RR 0.38, 95% CI 0.12 to 1.19) in participants who received ICU diaries, in comparison to those that did not receive a patient diary. However, the results were imprecise and consistent with benefit in either group, or no difference. Within a single study there was no evidence of difference in median post-traumatic stress symptomatology scores (diaries 24, SD 11.6; no diary 24, SD 11.6) and delusional ICU memory recall (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.84 to 1.28) between the patients recovering from ICU admission who received patient diaries, and those who did not. One study reported reduced post-traumatic stress symptomatology in family members of patients recovering from admission to ICU who received patient diaries (median 19; range 14 to 28), in comparison to no diary (median 28; range 14 to 38). Authors' conclusions: Currently there is minimal evidence from RCTs of the benefits or harms of patient diaries for patients and their caregivers or family members. A small study has described their potential to reduce post-traumatic stress symptomatology in family members. However, there is currently inadequate evidence to support their effectiveness in improving psychological recovery after critical illness for patients and their family members.
Ullman, A. J., Aitken, L. M., Rattray, J., Kenardy, J., Le Brocque, R., Macgillivray, S., & Hull, A. M. (2014, December 9). Diaries for recovery from critical illness. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD010468.pub2