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McPeake J, Mikkelsen ME, Quasim T, Hibbert E, Cannon P, Shaw M, Ankori J, Iwashyna TJ, Haines KJ. Return to Employment after Critical Illness and Its Association with Psychosocial Outcomes. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2019 Oct 1; 16(10):1304-1311.
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Abstract: Patients who survive critical illness have well-defined physical, cognitive, emotional, and familial problems. However, the impact of these problems on survivors' ability to return to work and other financial outcomes is less clear. To determine the financial and employment consequences of an intensive care stay, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis. We searched the MEDLINE, Embase, and CINAHL databases (1970-2018). All publication types except narrative reviews, case reports, case-control studies, and editorials were included. Included studies assessed financial outcomes in patients admitted to critical care and their caregivers. Two reviewers independently applied eligibility criteria, assessed quality, and extracted data. The primary outcome reported was return to employment among those previously employed. We also examined financial stress and the impact financial outcomes had on quality of life and psychosocial health. Of 5,765 eligible abstracts, 51 studies were included, which provided data on 858 caregivers/family members and 7,267 patients. Forty-two papers reported patient outcomes, and 11 papers described caregivers/family members. Two papers included data from both patients and caregivers/family members. Return to employment was the most commonly reported financial outcome for critical care survivors. The pooled estimates for return to employment among those who were employed before critical illness were 33% (95% confidence interval [CI], 21-48%), 55% (95% CI, 45-64%), and 56% (95% CI, 45-66%) at 3, 6, and 12 months, respectively. Across the studies included in this review, there was a positive association with psychosocial health if patients returned to employment. This included improved health-related quality of life and fewer depressive symptoms. Regarding caregivers/family members, six studies reported changes in employment such as reduced hours and lost earnings. After critical illness, many patients who were previously employed do not return to work, even one year later. This new job loss is associated with worse health-related quality of life among survivors and worse psychological function among survivors and caregivers/family members. More interventional research is required to understand how best to support employability after critical illness.Registered with PROSPERO (CRD42018102360).

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