Patients who were successfully treated for severe acute respiratory distress syndrome are less likely to report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder if they feel that they were supported during and after the intervention in the Intensive Care Unit.

Maria Deja and colleagues from the Charité Hospital in Berlin, Germany, studied 65 survivors of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) on average 4.7 years after the patients had been discharged from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in their hospital.

The study's results show that ARDS survivors' health-related quality of life was significantly reduced. Eighteen survivors were identified as being at increased risk for PTSD, and this was not related to the severity or to the cause of their ARDS. But these people did report having experienced more anxiety while at the ICU, and also showed a tendency to remember experiences of pain more often than ARDS survivors who were not at risk of PTSD.

In addition, psychological problems were significantly more intense in the survivors who were at risk of PTSD. These patients showed a reduced mental dimension of quality of life compared to patients who were not at risk of PTSD. For survivors who were at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder the perception of the support they had received was significantly lower than that of the other group of people who received treatment in the Intensive Care Unit. Overall, better-perceived social support was associated with a reduction in PTSD symptoms.

The authors also find that ARDS survivors who were at risk of PSTD were more likely to claim benefits or be unable to work. Deja et al. conclude: "The main result of our study was that social support and its probable mental health benefits may favourably affect the long-term outcome, including the employment status, of ICU patients who recover from ARDS."; Source: BioMed Central