Survival from critical illness can expose children to an array of negative physical and psychological problems. While the perspective of parents and professionals have been well documented, there is limited understanding of how childhood critical care survivors make sense of their experiences in relation to psychosocial well-being. We aimed to explore long-term psychosocial well-being of childhood survivors of critical illness through their stories. A qualitative, exploratory study using serial in-depth interviews was employed. Nine children (aged 6–15 years) were recruited to the study, 6–14 months post-discharge from a paediatric intensive care unit. Qualitative art-based methods were used with a responsive interviewing technique and data were analysed using narrative psychological analysis. Four themes emerged: disrupted lives and stories; survivors revealed uncertainties in their stories as they recalled their critical care event, exposure to death and dying; talking about extreme physical vulnerability provoked anxieties, mediating between different social worlds and identities; revealed the dynamic nature of survival and getting on with life; the prospective outlook survivors had on their existence despite newly manifesting adversities. Childhood survivors’ stories identify challenges and adversities that are faced when attempting to readjust to life following critical illness that both enhance and impair psychosocial well-being.
Bibliographical noteCopyright Sage Publications
- paediatric intensive care