The distorted memories of patients treated in the intensive care unit during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study.

Vogel G, Forinder U, Sandgren A, Svensen C, Joelsson-Alm E

Intensive Crit Care Nurs 79 (-) 103522 [2023-12-00; online 2023-08-18]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients cared for in the intensive care unit were exposed to many risk factors for developing delirium and subsequent distorted memories. Further, seeing healthcare professionals who have been dressed in personal protective equipment and face masks could have affected the patients' memories. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore memories and how they are experienced and managed by former patients who have been treated for COVID-19 in an intensive care unit. Sixteen former patients treated for COVID-19 at a large emergency hospital in Sweden were interviewed 3-8 months after discharge from the intensive care unit. The data were interpreted using thematic analysis. The Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research checklist was followed in the reporting of the study. Participants' descriptions of their memories of treatment in the intensive care unit for COVID-19 generated three themes: 'Distorted truth' the content in the memories which implied facing death in an unreal distorted environment. 'Captive,' was the experience and feelings linked to memories with a feeling of being exposed and alone, and 'Coping with memories' explained how participants managed the implications of the memories using a mixture of strategies. For former patients who were admitted to an intensive care unit after a diagnosis of COVID-19, memories caused considerable distress, which were similar to other intensive care patientÅ› experiences, before the pandemic. Emotion-focused and problem-focused strategies could be used to cope with these memories. Healthcare professionals wearing protective equipment gave the patient a distant feeling, but more important was to be treated with attention/care and respect. Awareness of the impact of distorted memories on patients who are severely ill and their needs and strategies to cope with these memories can form the basis for early interventions that promotes well-being during care and recovery. Healthcare professionals have an important task to inform patients and their family members about the existence of distorted memories, and talk about the patients' experience of them, to facilitate their recovery.

Category: Social Science & Humanities

Type: Journal article

PubMed 37598502

DOI 10.1016/j.iccn.2023.103522

Crossref 10.1016/j.iccn.2023.103522

pii: S0964-3397(23)00139-8

Publications 9.5.0