The Effect of Staying in a Critical Care Unit


Studies show that after patients stayed in a critical care unit, their psychological morbidity rates raised staggeringly high. Intensive Care Society’s research highlights a program designed to improve the psychological assessment of those who are critically ill.


Long-term morbidity can be reduced in two ways: (1) Early psychological assessment of morbidity, as well as (2) support for the patient. The Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) of Great Britain is currently working on a study to improve these two key factors.



“So much of mental health work is about giving people a space to be witnessed and held while sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of human life.” Lillian Harris LCPC-C


The program, called “POPPI,” stands for the Provision of Psychological Support to People in Intensive Care. Its current mission is to inform the National Health Society (NHS) on how to best improve the services needed by those who are critically ill. POPPI aims to find what improvements need to be made in the areas of morbidity assessment and patient support to reduce long-term morbidity. 


Although the reason for long-term morbidity has not been determined, healthcare professionals hypothesize that reactions to medication, stressful treatments, and being in a new environment are key factors. These factors increase the amount of panic and hallucinations that patients experience in the intensive care unit. These experiences have long-lasting effects. In fact, a study found that approximately half of the patients who were discharged from intensive care suffered from serious psychological problems three months after their stay. POPPI’s initiative hopes to decrease this number drastically.


The Components of POPPI


POPPI is a four-part intervention. Firstly, hospital staffs that interact with patients in the intensive care unit go through two training courses. Then, they will create a therapeutic environment; the aim of the second step is to decrease the amount of stress felt in the unit and to increase the level of peace. The third part of the intervention includes the use of the Intensive Care Psychological Assessment Tool. This assessment tool is designed to provide a measure of the acute psychological stress and unusual experiences that the patients in the unit undergo. The last step of the intervention involves support sessions. 


“Stress can seem omnipresent. Between working, socializing and taking care of the home, it sometimes seems we don’t have a minute to ourselves, let alone enough time to really take care of our bodies and minds.” Sonja Seglin, LCPC


Support sessions are provided for patients who score highly on the assessment tool given to them in the previous step. These support sessions are only provided to those patients who are deemed to be at high risk for developing psychological morbidity.


Getting the Help You Need



“We all experience obstacles in life that keep us from feeling and being whole. Many have found counseling as a way to invest in themselves, their relationships, or their families in order to support a better or new meaning on life.”  Ryan Mebust – LMFT said. If you find yourself in need of professional help for your mental health, there are many resources available for you. As this article mentions, morbidity rates are extremely high after staying in a critical care unit. If you or a loved one is suffering from this, reach out for help.


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