ICU diary can help clarify experiences for patients

An intensive care unit diary can help patients gain clarity of their time in the cardiac ICU, serving as a reality-sorting tool that is effective in connecting their flashbacks and potentially inaccurate memories to actual events, according to a study published in Critical Care Nurse.

Researchers conducted a three-phased study: writing in the diary about patient events in the cardiac ICU; a follow-up visit with the patient within one week of cardiac ICU transfer; and a follow-up telephone call two months after hospital discharge. Of 26 patients who participated, 13 completed all three phases.

Researchers found:

• The diary allowed patients to correlate memories to actual events.
• Patients could read about their families' experiences during their ICU stay.
• Recovery was an emotional process that affected the patient's readiness to read the diary.
• Patients expressed a desire for more entries by caregivers.

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