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Quality of life in acute respiratory distress syndrome survivors may be no worst than in other ICU survivors

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To compare the health-related quality of life (HR-QOL) in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) survivors with that in a matched control group of non-ARDS survivors.

Design and setting

Prospective, matched, parallel cohort study, comparing HR-QOL between intensive care unit (ICU) survivors with ARDS and a control group in a tertiary care hospital.


Between May 1997 and December 2000, all ARDS adult patients of an eight-bed medical/surgical unit of a tertiary care hospital were enrolled and a control group of non-ARDS survivors, matched for severity of disease and for previous health state, was selected. The study included 29 ARDS survivors who answered the EQ-5D questionnaire and had lung function evaluated.

Measurements and results

A follow-up appointment was performed 6 months after ICU discharge consisting of: (a) evaluation of HR-QOL using EQ-5D and (b) lung function tests and measure of diffusing capacity. Among ARDS survivors 41% had normal lung function and 59% mild to moderate lung function impairments. Nearly a one-third of ARDS survivors reported problems in one or more of the five dimensions of the EQ-5D, and 48% reported feeling worse at the interview than 6 month before ICU admission. No significant differences were found in HR-QOL between ARDS survivors and other ICU survivors with similar age and matched for previous health state and severity of disease.


This study suggests that impairments in HR-QOL among ARDS survivors may not be distinguishable from that among other ICU survivors.

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We thank Alexandra Vieira and Luís Filipe Azevedo for their invaluable help in data management and analysis, and Paula Simão and Paula Negrão for their assistance in lung function evaluation.

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Correspondence to Cristina Granja.

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An editorial regarding this article can be found in the same issue (

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Granja, C., Morujão, E. & Costa-Pereira, A. Quality of life in acute respiratory distress syndrome survivors may be no worst than in other ICU survivors. Intensive Care Med 29, 1744–1750 (2003).

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  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Quality of life
  • Health-related quality of life
  • EQ-5D questionnaire
  • Lung function recovery
  • Outcome