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Depressive symptoms, ICU diary, Intensive care unit, Posttraumatic stress disorder



  1. Gazzato, Arianna RN
  2. Scquizzato, Tommaso MS
  3. Imbriaco, Guglielmo MSN
  4. Negro, Alessandra RN
  5. Caballo Garrido, Maria Cristina RN
  6. Landoni, Giovanni MD
  7. Zangrillo, Alberto MD
  8. Borghi, Giovanni MD


Introduction: Patients discharged from the intensive care unit (ICU) suffer from long-term symptoms affecting the physical, psychological, and cognitive well-being and cannot understand memories and dreams. Intensive care unit diaries describe daily events about the patient and may allow them to reconstruct their experience.


Objective: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to investigate the effects of ICU diaries on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety.


Methods: Five electronic databases were searched up to May 6, 2022. We included RCTs comparing patients admitted to the ICU who received a diary to those who did not receive a diary. The primary outcome was the rate of PTSD. Secondary outcomes were rates of depression and anxiety.


Results: We included 7 RCTs. Patients who received a diary during the ICU admission had reduced rate of PTSD (78/432 [18%] vs 106/422 [25%]; risk ratio [RR], 0.73; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.57-0.94; P = .02; I2 = 0%; trial sequential analysis-adjusted CI, 0.55-0.97) when compared with patients who did not receive a diary. We found a non-statistically significant difference toward a reduction in the rate of depression (38/232 [16%] vs 54/224 [24%]; RR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.49-1.01; P = .06; I2 = 0%) and anxiety (63/232 [27%] vs 70/224 [31%]; RR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.29-1.40; P = .26; I2 = 67%).


Conclusions: Providing an ICU diary to patients admitted to the ICU reduced the rate of PTSD symptoms compared with usual care.