Most family members of COVID ICU patients report PTSD symptoms: research

A study published Monday found a majority of families who had a loved one with COVID-19 in an intensive care unit had PTSD symptoms afterward. 

The symptoms were found more often in women, Hispanics and those who previously used medication for a psychiatric condition, according to the study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. 

After analyzing 330 family members who previously had a loved one in the ICU with the coronavirus, the study says those with higher PTSD symptoms more commonly had distrust of medical professionals. 

Overall, 63.6 percent of respondents recorded high levels of PTSD after a loved one had COVID-19 in the ICU, higher than ICU visits before the pandemic, when quarantining and isolation were less common.

“Prior to the pandemic, the data suggested that more involvement at the bedside was helpful to the family members and may reduce stress related symptoms. It then stands to reason that excluding them would increase their rates of stress symptoms, which was our hypothesis,” Timothy Amass, one of the authors of the study and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, told The Hill.

Only 21 percent of respondents reported receiving “above-and-beyond acts of compassion” from their health care team, including exceptional communication and hanging signs in a patient’s room so family could know from the outside where their loved ones were. 

These extra acts of compassion were reportedly less common among Hispanic families and patients, according to the study. 

Amass told The Hill there are multiple reasons why a person might get PTSD after a loved one stayed in the ICU. 

He said the need to make life or death decisions, the sudden change in health status and a loss of control for the care of their loved one could all lead to such symptoms.

Updated: 11:03 a.m.

Tags COVID-19 Hispanics ICU PTSD women
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