Nurse Educator M.S.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Meyer, Kimberley


Background: Many patients who become critically ill spend an extended period of time in the intensive care unit (ICU). Oftentimes, patients experience depression as they navigate the healing process. Experiencing these symptoms may influence the road to recovery and life after critical illness. Purpose: The prevalence of symptoms of depression can range from 10 to 30% in ICU survivors (Myhren, Ekeberg, Tøien, Karlsson, & Stokland, 2010; Peris et al., 2011). Strategies to prevent and manage symptoms of depression are some of the current trends in critical care research. Therefore, a literature review of the interventions was conducted in order to answer two fundamental driving questions. What strategies are used for adult ICU patients to mitigate or manage symptoms of depression? Which strategies are most effective at improving patient outcomes in this area? Results: Eighteen articles were reviewed and evaluated for level and quality of evidence based on the Johns Hopkins Evidence Appraisal Tool (Dang & Dearholt, 2018). The literature revealed many strategies, which included involvement of a mental health specialist, a care bundle, a pharmacist, ICU diaries, ICU clinics, addressing ICU experiences, and adding spiritual care to the care team. These may offer opportunities to mitigate and manage symptoms of depression following an ICU stay. Commonalities among the strategies were found throughout the literature. Though deemed as beneficial, the generalizability of effectiveness of the strategies should be considered, as there are a vast number of variables to each patient situation. Conclusion: Strategies that seemed to be most effective were involving mental health specialists in the care team, utilizing a pharmacist for medication management, implementing ICU diaries, developing ICU clinics, and addressing spiritual care needs. Further research is needed surrounding these strategies among others. Implications for Research and Practice: Experimental research on which specific interventions will decrease the prevalence of symptoms of depression in this population needs to be conducted. In addition, further studies surrounding issues such as baseline mental health, influence of social interactions, personality traits, along with disease processes should all be considered. Finally, awareness of the issue of depression in ICU patients is vital to nursing practice. Utilizing the nursing license to its fullest through implementing interventions like those identified here may impact patient outcomes.

Degree Name

M.S. Nurse Educator

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis

Included in

Nursing Commons