Studying outcomes of intensive care unit survivors: The role of the cohort study

David W. Dowdy, Dale M. Needham, Pedro A. Mendez-Tellez, Margaret S. Herridge, Peter J. Pronovost

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: As research focuses on long-term patient outcomes and the "real world" effectiveness of intensive care unit (ICU) therapies, the cohort study is increasingly being used in critical care research. Methods: Using examples of prior cohort studies in intensive care, we review the key elements of this research design and evaluate its advantages and limitations for critical care research. Furthermore, through a systematic search of the literature we summarize data from 70 prior published cohort studies of medium- and long-term outcomes in adult critical care medicine. Discussion: This research demonstrates that the prospective cohort study is a powerful research design that has not been fully leveraged to assess relationships between exposures and long-term outcomes of ICU survivors. Conclusions: We make recommendations for the design of future cohort studies to maximize the impact of this research in improving the long-term outcomes of critically ill patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)914-921
Number of pages8
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Cohort studies
  • Critical illness
  • Epidemiological methods
  • Outcome assessment (health care)
  • Review literature
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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