Family members of patients in intensive care units may experience psychological distress and substantial caregiver burden.


To evaluate whether change in caregiver burden from intensive care unit admission to 3-month follow-up is associated with caregiver depression at 3 months.


Caregiver burden was assessed at enrollment and 3 months later, and caregiver depression was assessed at 3 months. Depression was measured with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Score. The primary analysis was the association between depression at 3 months and change in caregiver burden, controlling for a history of caregiver depression.


One hundred one participants were enrolled; 65 participants had a surviving loved one and completed 3-month follow-up. At 3-month follow-up, 12% of participants met criteria for depression. Increased caregiver burden over time was significantly associated with depression at follow-up (Fisher exact test, P = .004), although this association was not significant after controlling for self-reported history of depression at baseline (Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test, P = .23).


Family members are increasingly recognized as a vulnerable population susceptible to negative psychological outcomes after a loved one’s admission to the intensive care unit. In this small sample, no significant association was found between change in caregiver burden and depression at 3 months after controlling for baseline depression.

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