To review the prevalence of psychiatric syndromes in pediatric critical illness survivors as well as to summarize data on vulnerabilities and pediatric intensive care unit exposures that may increase risk of developing these syndromes.
MEDLINE (1966-2009), the Cochrane Library (2009, issue 3), and PsycINFO (1967-2009) as of August 9, 2009.
Case-control, cross-sectional, prospective cohort and retrospective cohort studies as well as randomized controlled trials.
Hospitalization for the treatment of a critical illness.
Main Outcome Measures
Assessments of psychiatric symptoms/disorders at least once after discharge.
Seventeen studies were eligible. The most commonly assessed psychiatric disorders were posttraumatic stress disorder and major depression. The point prevalence of clinically significant posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms ranged from 10% to 28% (5 studies). The point prevalence of clinically significant depressive symptoms ranged from 7% to 13% (2 studies). Preillness psychiatric and/or developmental problems and parental psychopathology were associated with vulnerability to psychiatric morbidity. Neither age nor sex of a child consistently increased vulnerability to postillness psychopathology. Exposure to increased severity of medical illness and pediatric intensive care unit service-delivery characteristics (eg, invasive procedures) were predictors of psychiatric illness in some but not all studies. Early postillness psychiatric symptoms were predictors of later psychiatric morbidity.
Psychiatric morbidity appears to be a substantial problem for pediatric critical illness survivors. Future research should include more in-depth assessment of post–critical illness depressive, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms, validate existing psychiatric instruments, and clarify how vulnerability factors, pediatric intensive care unit service-delivery characteristics, and severity of critical illnesses are associated with subsequent psychopathology.