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Quality of life after critical illness is becoming increasingly important as survival improves. Various measures have been used to study the quality of life of patients discharged from intensive care. We systematically reviewed validated measures of quality of life and their results. We searched PubMed, CENTRAL, CINAHL, Web of Science and Open Grey for studies of quality of life, measured after discharge from intensive care. We categorised studied populations as: general; restricted to level-3 care or critical care beyond 5 days; and septic patients. We included quality of life measured at any time after hospital discharge. We identified 48 studies. Thirty-one studies used the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and 19 used the EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D); eight used both and nine used alternative validated measures. Follow-up rates ranged from 26-100%. Quality of life after critical care was worse than for age- and sex-matched populations. Quality of life improved for one year after hospital discharge. The aspects of life that improved most were physical function, physical role, vitality and social function. However, these domains were also the least likely to recover to population norms as they were more profoundly affected by critical illness.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





100 - 108


critical care, intensive care units, quality of life, sepsis, Critical Care, Critical Illness, Humans, Intensive Care Units, Patient Discharge, Quality of Life, Sepsis