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ISSN: 1642-5758
Anaesthesiology Intensive Therapy
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vol. 55
Original paper

Identification of risk factors for post-intensive care syndrome in family members (PICS-F) among adult patients: a systematic review

Zbigniew Putowski
Natalia Rachfalska
Karolina Majewska
Katarzyna Megger
Łukasz Krzych
2, 5

Centre for Intensive Care and Perioperative Medicine, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland
Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Medical University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland
Department of Digestive Tract Surgery, Medical University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland
Collegium Medicum, University of Zielona Gora, Poland
Department of Cardiac Anaesthesia and Intensive Therapy, Medical University of Silesia, Silesian Center for Heart Diseases, Zabrze, Poland
Anaesthesiol Intensive Ther 2023; 55, 3: 168–178
Online publish date: 2023/08/31
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Relatives of critically ill patients who either die or survive the intensive care unit (ICU) may develop substantial mental health problems that are collectively defined as post-intensive care syndrome in family (PICS-F).

Material and methods:
By using a systematised search strategy we included studies that focused on PICS-F in relatives of adult ICU patients and reported the risk factors associated with its development. The search was conducted within PubMed, Embase, SCOPUS, clinicaltrials.gov, and Cochrane Library on the 23 August 2022. PRISMA 2020 guidelines were implemented for appropriate reporting. The objective was to document all possible risk factors associated with the development of PICS-F.

We included 51 papers covering 9302 relatives. The frequency of PICS-F varied between 2.5 and 69%. We identified 51 different risk factors of PICS-F, among which we distinguished patient-related (n = 16), relative-related (n = 27), and medical staff-related (n = 8) risk factors. Among 21 studies of the highest quality, we identified the 33 variables associated with the development of PICS-F, of which younger age of a patient, death of a patient, depression in relatives during the ICU stay, history of mental disorders in relatives, being a female relative, being a spouse, and having low satisfaction with communication and care in the ICU were the most commonly reported risk factors.

PICS-F is a highly frequent phenomenon that can be exacerbated by several risk factors. Special attention should be paid to relatives of younger patients with worse prognosis and with the following relative-related risk factors: female sex, being a spouse, and history of mental health disorders. Finally, the medical staff play a role in preventing the PICS-F development, not only by maintenance of proper communication, but also by early identification of relatives prone to PICS-F.


post-intensive care syndrome in family, intensive care, anxiety, risk factors, systematic review, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder

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