Defining patient-centered recovery after critical illness – A qualitative study

Lynda M. Thurston, Sharyn L. Milnes, Carol L. Hodgson, Danielle E. Berkovic, Darshini R. Ayton, Theodore J. Iwashyna, Neil R. Orford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Purpose: To explore perspectives of adult critical illness survivors and identify important aspects to care and recovery. Materials and methods: A descriptive, qualitative study of adult survivors of prolonged critical illness, six-months after Intensive Care Unit (ICU) discharge, using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis. The study was undertaken in an academic, tertiary, regional hospital in Victoria, Australia. Results: Thirty-five patients participated in the study. Most were male (69%) with median age 64 years. Admissions were predominantly medical (51%), followed by cardiothoracic (26%) and general surgical (23%). Median ICU and hospital length of stay were 5 and 17 days respectively. Qualitative analysis revealed two key theme categories, recovery status and care experience. Three recovery states were identified based on physical and neuropsychological recovery. Care experiences varied across recovery states, including care encounters, communication, support and impact on family and friends, and use of community health services. Conclusion: Critical illness survivors frame their recovery in terms of recovery status and care experience, reflecting existing qualitative domains of physical health, psychological health, cognitive function, social health and life satisfaction. Theme content varied with recovery status, raising the possibility that modifying care experiences or patient perceptions could change recovery outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-90
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Critical Care
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2020


  • Intensive care
  • Patient-centered outcomes research
  • Qualitative research
  • Recovery of function
  • Survivorship

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