Screening tools for post–intensive care syndrome and post-traumatic symptoms in intensive care unit survivors: A scoping review

Published:December 01, 2022DOI:



      Evidence suggests that intensive care unit (ICU) survivors often suffer long-term complications such as post–intensive care syndrome (PICS) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from critical illness and ICU stay. PICS and PTSD affect both ICU survivors and their families, which overburdens the healthcare systems. Lack of evidence on the comparative psychometric properties of assessment tools is a major barrier in evidence-based screening for post-ICU symptomatology and health-related quality of life.


      We aimed to identify existing tools for screening PTSD and PICS in ICU survivors and their families and to examine evidence on the validity, reliability, sensitivity, and specificity of existing tools, as reflected in published peer-reviewed studies.


      A scoping review based on literature searches (CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Scopus, Health and Psychosocial Instruments, Dissertations and Theses Global, and Google Scholar) and predefined eligibility criteria was conducted according to current scoping review guidelines.


      We identified 44 studies reporting on the development and assessment of psychometric properties of PICS/PTSD in ICU survivors or families globally. We identified five tools addressing all three aspects of PICS manifestations, one tool for both physical and mental aspects of PICS, and fivefive tools for quality-of-life assessment in ICU survivors. Altogether, 25 tools assess only one aspect of PICS: five for cognitive impairment, seven for physical impairment, and 13 for mental health impairment and PTSD in ICU survivors. However, only two tools were found for PICS-family assessment. Other findings include (i) unclear validity and often limited feasibility of tools, (ii) low diagnostic accuracy of cognitive assessment tools, and (iii) evidence of appropriate psychometric properties and feasibility of psychological health assessment tools.


      These results have implications for the selection and implementation of the assessment methods as a means for promoting meaningful patient-centred clinical outcomes to minimise long-term sequelae, reduce the rate of rehospitalisation, and optimise recovery after ICU discharge.


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