Skip main navigation

Psychological Support Following ICU Admission

Psychological Support Following ICU Admission
Hello. My name’s John Sharp. I’m a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital based in Clydebank. I work with people who have physical ill health. And often, some of those illnesses are quite serious and significant enough that they may require advanced therapies. Part of my role is dealing with people who have been admitted to intensive care. Regrettably, despite the fact that psychological problems are very common for people who have been within ICU, the presence of dedicated psychologists to the intensive care unit is incredibly rare. There are lots of different reasons for that, and it’s increasingly becoming accepted that there is a need for psychological follow up.
So a recent project initiated in Glasgow called InS:PIRE, which is post-ICU rehabilitation. A large component of that programme of rehabilitation is psychological care. And this has been recognised as a gold standard intervention by Scottish government. As difficult as an admission to ICU is, not everybody who’s admitted to ICU will experience trauma in the aftermath. However, a significant number of people will. The figures for this which suggests that up to a quarter of people who are admitted to ICU will have clinical levels of trauma in the aftermath. This is obviously a significant number and really suggests that we should be routinely monitoring the well-being post-discharge.
It can often be difficult to predict those who will experience trauma versus those who will not. The most reliable predictor is people who have had previous difficulties with anxiety. So those who have maybe been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in the past are much more likely to experience anxiety in the future and require special monitoring. It’s often thought that trauma is related to the severity of the event that people have been through. However, PTSD doesn’t discriminate between those who are really sick and those who are a little sick. It’s not the event itself that causes PTSD. It’s the way that people process the event and why it’s happened that leads to traumatic experiences.

Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Dr John Sharp, highlights that psychological care is an important part of a patient’s rehabilitation following an intense medical intervention. He highlights that up to a quarter of patients are believed to experience clinical levels of trauma following an admission to ICU and the importance of routine monitoring of these patients’ psychological wellbeing post-discharge

Dr John SharpDr John Sharp is a consultant clinical psychologist working within the Scottish National Advanced Heart Failure Service. He oversees psychological services for people with heart failure being considered for or in receipt of advanced therapies including heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory devices.

This article is from the free online

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Global Context

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now