Objective: To examine the long-term quality of life (QOL) in a group of patients after prolonged mechanical ventilatory support.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: Outpatient follow-up.
Patients: Survivors of prolonged mechanical ventilatory support who were discharged from a ventilator rehabilitation unit (VRU).
Interventions: Measurement of health-related QOL using the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP).
Measurements and Main Results : Forty-six patients were contacted approximately 2 yrs after their discharge from the VRU and asked to complete the SIP. Twenty-five patients (age, 59 ± 17 yrs; duration of mechanical ventilatory support, 45 ± 36 days [mean ± sd]) agreed to participate in this study and completed the SIP questionnaire 23 ± 18 months after their discharge from the VRU. Patients’ VRU stay was 29 ± 21 days. Two patients were discharged with nocturnal ventilatory support, and the rest were completely weaned of mechanical ventilatory support before discharge. Fifteen patients (60%) were discharged to home, eight patients (32%) were discharged to a rehabilitation facility, and two patients (8%) were discharged to a skilled-care facility. Most patients had mild dysfunction, and the global SIP score was 12 ± 10, the physical dimension score was 12 ± 12, and the psychosocial dimension score was 9 ± 11 (SIP scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating worse QOL). Subgroup analysis showed that postoperative patients had lower SIP scores compared with patients with chronic respiratory diseases (global SIP, 7 ± 6 vs. 19 ± 8;p < .05). Moreover, the patients in the postoperative group were older, but had similar SIP scores as patients who had acute lung injury (17 ± 15). Global SIP scores correlated with age (r = −.40;p = .046), but not with duration of mechanical ventilatory support (r = −.23) or VRU admission Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II scores (r = −.39;p = .06).
Conclusions: In survivors of prolonged mechanical ventilatory support, using specific selection criteria shows that there is minimal impairment in the QOL at long-term follow-up. Although some patients continue to have moderate to severe limitations, it is the cause of respiratory failure and the underlying disease, rather than duration of ventilatory support, that have a significant impact on QOL.