Relatives of patients recovering from critical illness are at risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder.
To test whether providing a diary to intensive care patients and their relatives reduces the level of symptoms related to posttraumatic stress disorder in the relatives.
Observational study of close family members of patients who stayed more than 72 hours in an intensive care unit, recruited in 2 centers of a 12-center randomized controlled trial examining the effect of a diary outlining the details of the patients’ stay in the intensive care unit on the development of new-onset posttraumatic stress disorder in patients. The close family members of the patients were recruited to examine the additional effect of the provision of the patient’s diary on the family members’ symptoms related to posttraumatic stress syndrome.
Thirty-six family members were recruited, and 30 completed the study. Family members of patients who received their diary at 1 month had lower levels of symptoms related to posttraumatic stress disorder (P = .03) at the 3-month follow-up than did the control family members.
Provision of a diary may help psychological recovery in patients’ families after critical illness.