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Anxiety and depression following critical illness: A comparison of the recovery trajectories of patients and caregivers.

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Docherty, Christie 
Quasim, Tara 
MacTavish, Pamela 
Devine, Helen 
O'Brien, Peter 


BACKGROUND: Following critical illness, family members are often required to adopt caregiving responsibilities. Anxiety and depression are common long term problems for both patients and caregivers. However, at present, it is not known how the trajectories of these symptoms compare between patients and caregivers. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate and compare the trajectories of anxiety and depression in patients and caregivers in the first year following critical illness. METHODS: This study analyses data from a prospective multicentre cohort study of patients and caregivers who underwent a complex recovery intervention following critical illness. Paired patients and caregivers were recruited. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale was used to evaluate symptoms of anxiety and depression at three timepoints: baseline; 3 months; and 12 months in both patient and caregivers. A linear mixed-effects regression model was used to evaluate the trajectories of these symptoms over the first year following critical illness. RESULTS: 115 paired patients and caregivers, who received the complex recovery intervention, were recruited. There was no significant difference in the relative trajectory of depressive symptoms between patients and caregivers in the first 12 months following critical illness (p = 0.08). There was, however, a significant difference in the trajectory of anxiety symptoms between patients and caregivers during this time period (p = 0.04), with caregivers seeing reduced resolution of symptoms in comparison to patients. CONCLUSIONS: Following critical illness, symptoms of anxiety and depression are common in both patients and caregivers. The trajectory of symptoms of depression was similar between caregivers and patients; however, there was a significantly different recovery trajectory in symptoms of anxiety. Further research is required to understand the recovery pathway of caregivers in order to design effective interventions.



Anxiety, Caregivers, Critical illness, Depression

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Aust Crit Care

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Elsevier BV
This project was supported by an award from the Health Foundation (173544) and a THIS.Institute (University of Cambridge) Fellowship (307748/PD-2019-02-16).