ICU Diaries: A Pilot Program

Background: Following intensive care unit (ICU) stays, patients with Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) can experience cognitive, physical, and mental health related symptoms that can impact their quality of life. ICU diaries have been shown to improve mental health outcomes for both patients and their families. Purpose: To implement an effective ICU diary pilot program in a twenty-four-bed adult medical surgical intensive care unit, while gathering feedback from patients, families, and nursing staff. Methods: After meeting with all stakeholders, an ICU diary program was developed based on current evidence. Patients requiring mechanical ventilation with an expected ICU length of stay over 24 hours were included. Nursing staff and patient families entered daily descriptive narratives of the patient’s progress in the diary during the ICU stay. After discharge, patients and families reviewed the diary to bridge their memory gap while improving patient acceptance of their ICU experience. Evaluation of the project included patient and family follow-up calls, a staff nurse feedback survey, and project champion debrief. Results: A final sample of twenty completed ICU diaries were distributed at ICU discharge. Follow-up calls illustrated themes of support and gratitude for the diaries, regardless of patient outcomes. Patients reported the diaries helped to fill in the memory gap that existed between ICU admission and discharge. Nursing surveys confirmed that completion of ICU diary entries had minimal impact on workload and described an ease in communication with families and improvement in personal coping. Conclusions & Implications: ICU diaries have the potential to benefit patients, families, and nursing staff during and after critical illness for little organizational cost.



Work Title ICU Diaries: A Pilot Program
Open Access
  1. Abbygale Hackenberger
License No Copyright - U.S.
Work Type Project
  1. Dr. Barbara Birriel
  2. Dr. Judith Hupcey
  3. Dr. Rachel Allen
Publication Date April 8, 2022
Deposited April 08, 2022




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    • Dr. Barbara Birriel, Dr. Judith Hupcey, Dr. Rachel Allen
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