ICU survivors suffer from long-lasting physical, mental, and cognitive health impairments, also called “postintensive care syndrome”. However, an overview of the effectiveness of interventions to prevent or mitigate these impairments is lacking. The aim of this study is to assess the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic interventions.
PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Embase, and Cochrane Library were systematically searched from inception until July 19, 2018.
(Non)randomized clinical trials, controlled before-after studies, and interrupted time series were included. Outcomes of interest included patients physical, mental and cognitive outcomes, quality of life, and outcomes such as social functioning and functional status, measured after hospital discharge.
Two independent reviewers selected studies, extracted data, and assessed the risk of bias. Pooled mean differences and standardized mean differences were calculated using random-effect meta-analyses.
After screening 17,008 articles, 36 studies, including 10 pilot studies, were included (n = 5,165 ICU patients). Interventions were subdivided into six categories: 1) exercise and physical rehabilitation programs; 2) follow-up services; 3) psychosocial programs; 4) diaries; 5) information and education; and 6) other interventions. Many outcomes favored the interventions, but significant differences were only found for diaries in reducing depression (two studies, n = 88; standardized mean difference, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.14–1.21) and anxiety (two studies, n = 88; standardized mean difference, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.01–0.87) and exercise programs in improving the Short Form Health Survey-36 Mental Component Score (seven studies, n = 664; mean difference, 2.62; 95% CI, 0.92–4.32).
There is thin evidence that diaries and exercise programs have a positive effective on mental outcomes. Despite outcomes favoring the intervention group, other commonly used nonpharmacologic interventions in daily ICU practice are not supported by conclusive evidence from this meta-analysis. To improve recovery programs for ICU survivors, more evidence is needed from robust intervention studies using standardized outcomes.