The influence of social support on patients' quality of life after an intensive care unit discharge: A cross-sectional survey

Bram Tilburgs, Marjan D Nijkamp, Esther C Bakker, Hans van der Hoeven

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    OBJECTIVES: To determine the influence of instrumental, emotional and informative support on the quality of life of former intensive care unit (ICU) patients and to establish their preferred sources of social support.

    RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: In a cross-sectional survey, former intensive care patients (n=88) completed the "social support interactions/discrepancies list", the "RAND-36 Health Survey" and reported their preferred sources of the different types of social support.

    SETTING: A 35 bed intensive care unit in the Radboudumc university hospital in the Netherlands.

    MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Psychological, physical and social domains of quality of life and patient preferences regarding sources of social support.

    RESULTS: Instrumental and emotional support show a buffering effect on the physical dimension of the quality of life. The discrepancies between the expected and the received instrumental, informative and emotional support have a negative influence on psychological quality of life. Former ICU patients prefer receiving social support from family members rather than friends, professional caregivers or fellow former ICU patients.

    CONCLUSION: This study emphasises the buffering effect of social support on diminished quality of life in former intensive care patients. It is suggested that hospitals provide an intensive care after-care programme including both patients and relatives to help fulfilling this need for social support.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)336-42
    Number of pages7
    JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


    • Adolescent
    • Adult
    • Aftercare/methods
    • Aged
    • Aged, 80 and over
    • Critical Care
    • Cross-Sectional Studies
    • Female
    • Hospitals, University
    • Humans
    • Length of Stay
    • Male
    • Middle Aged
    • Netherlands
    • Patient Discharge
    • Patient Satisfaction
    • Quality of Life
    • Social Support
    • Surveys and Questionnaires
    • Young Adult


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