Survivors of ARDS have well documented physical limitations, but psychological effects are less clear. We determined the prevalence of self-reported depression and memory dysfunction in ARDS survivors.
Six to 48 (median 22) months after ICU discharge, we administered instruments assessing depression symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory-II [BDI-II]) and memory dysfunction (Memory Assessment Clinics Self-Rating Scale [MAC-S]) to 82 ARDS patients who were enrolled in a prospective cohort study in four university-affiliated ICUs.
Sixty-one (74%), 64 (78%), and 61 (74%) patients fully completed the BDI-II, MAC-S (Ability subscale), and MAC-S (Frequency of Occurrence subscale) instruments. Responders (similar to nonresponders) were young (median 42 years, interquartile range [IQR] 35 to 56), with high admission illness severity and organ dysfunction. The median BDI-II score was 12 (IQR 5 to 25). Twenty-five (41%) patients reported moderate-severe depression symptoms and were less likely to return to work than those with minimal-mild symptoms (8/25 [32%] vs 25/36 [69%]; p = 0.005). Median MAC-S (Ability) and MAC-S (Frequency of Occurrence) scores were 76 (IQR 61 to 93) and 91 (IQR 77 to 102), respectively; 8%, 16%, and 20% scored > 2, > 1.5, and > 1 SD(s), respectively, below age-adjusted population norms for each subscale. BDI-II and MAC-S scores were negatively correlated (Spearman coefficient –0.58 and –0.50 for Ability and Frequency of Occurrence subscales, respectively; p < 0.0001). Univariable analyses showed no demographic or illness-severity predictors of BDI-II (including the Cognitive subscale) or MAC-S (both subscales); results were similar when restricted to patients whose primary language was English.
ARDS survivors report a high prevalence of depression symptoms and a lower prevalence of memory dysfunction 6 to 48 months after ICU discharge. Depression symptoms may hinder the return to work, or patients may report these symptoms because of inability to re-enter the workforce.