A patient’s need for life-sustaining treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU) has significant and enduring effects on the patient’s family. The impact of critical illness extends beyond the patient and exposes family members of critically ill patients to psychologically taxing conditions. Several studies have established that family members of the critically ill are at risk for heightened states of psychological morbidity. Symptoms of acute stress, anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been reported among family members more than 6 months following a patient’s admission to an ICU.

The impact of critical illness on the patient’s family system has been recognized as a significant clinical problem, which resulted in the term post–intensive care syndrome–family (PICS-F). This term reflects adverse psychological symptoms among family members of the critically ill owing to the patient’s severity of illness, uncertain prognosis, need for surrogate decision-making,...

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