Unexpected Effects of an Accident

Post traumatic stress from ICU visit reduced in women who have follow up treatment

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) The physical and mental effects of a major accident can be life-changing. After a visit to the hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU) many people suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression. In women, treatment can help.

A psychological and physical follow up treatment reduced anxiety in those women most deeply affected by the ICU. The treatment did not have any noticeable effect on most men.

"Seek psychological treatment after a major accident."

"In general, for the same event, women are twice as likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, recover more slowly, and are more prone to suffer long-term effects. We found this was also true in ICU survivors,” says Peter Sackey, MD, PhD, of Karolinska University Hospital Solna, Sweden.

The study compares 73 patients who spent more than four days in the ICU during 2006 to 98 patients who spent more than four days in the ICU during 2007-08.

The patients in 2006 did not receive any post-ICU treatment, but those in 2007-08 did because the hospital implemented a psychological treatment program at the ICU.

The follow-up treatment consisted of voluntary meetings at three, six, and twelve months after release from the ICU. A follow-up questionnaire was also completed at 14 months.

At each visit, and in the follow-up questionnaire, patient's psychological condition was measured using the Impact Event Scale (IES).  This is a standardized method for determining post-traumatic stress symptoms.

The researchers found that women’s IES scores in the 75th percentile showed an average 17.5 point drop once follow-up treatments were implemented.

“The women with the highest IES scores were the ones who were most helped by the follow-up scheme,” adds Sackey. “While it is not clear whether the scheme only helps patients at severe risk of PTSD, it does mean that these people have access to the treatment they need."

The researchers note that more research is necessary to determine the nature of the relationship between IES scores and PTSD, and also why the men were seemingly unaffected by the treatments.

The study was published online May 14, 2012, in the journal Critical Care and was funded by the Lena and Per Sjöberg Research Foundation, the Karolinska University Hospital, the Karolinska Institutet Committé of Strategic Research, and the Olle Engkvist Foundation. The study authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 14, 2012
Last Updated:
July 9, 2012