Quality of life after acute respiratory distress syndrome: A meta-analysis

David W. Dowdy, Mark P. Eid, Cheryl R. Dennison, Pedro A. Mendez-Tellez, Margaret S. Herridge, Eliseo Guallar, Peter J. Pronovost, Dale M. Needham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


Objective: To summarize long-term quality of life (QOL) and the degree of variation in QOL estimates across studies of acute respiratory distress (ARDS) survivors. Design: A systematic review of studies evaluating QOL in ARDS survivors was conducted. Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, pre-CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library were searched, and reference lists from relevant articles were evaluated. Two authors independently selected studies reporting QOL in adult survivors of ARDS or acute lung injury at least 30 days after intensive care unit discharge and extracted data on study design, patient characteristics, methods, and results. Measurements and results: Thirteen independent observational studies (557 patients) met inclusion criteria. Eight of these studies used eight different QOL instruments, allowing only qualitative synthesis of results. The five remaining studies (330 patients) measured QOL using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form survey (SF-36). Mean QOL scores were similar across these studies, falling within a range of 20 points for all domains. Pooled domain-specific QOL scores in ARDS survivors 6 months or later after discharge ranged from 45 (role physical) to 66 (social functioning), or 15-26 points lower than population norms, in all domains except mental health (11 points) and role physical (39 points). Corresponding confidence intervals were no wider than ± 9 points. Six studies all found stable or improved QOL over time, but only one found significant improvement beyond 6 months after discharge. Conclusions: ARDS survivors in different clinical settings experience similar decrements in QOL. The precise magnitude of these decrements helps clarify the long-term prognosis for ARDS survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1115-1124
Number of pages10
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Critical care
  • Critical illness
  • Intensive care units
  • Outcome assessment (health care)
  • Quality of life
  • Respiratory distress syndrome, adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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