Opportunities - Creation of a comprehensive bundle of care for the management of stress and anxiety in critically ill patients (SACC)

Project Background

The experience of intensive care remains exceptionally stressful despite the advances in care that have greatly improved critical illness survival. Psychological stressors result in a number of adverse outcomes during ICU stay and after ICU discharge, and they greatly affect survivors’ and their families’ quality of life and recovery. Up to 75% of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) survivors experience anxious ideation and delirium while in the ICU, and more than half report overwhelming mental health symptoms after ICU discharge,  

Primary studies have addressed environmental (e.g. noise) and physical stressors (e.g. pain) that impact patients’ responses. However, there remains a dimension of ICU patients’ experiences that involves complex psychological stress responses that are difficult to tackle. These may include a sense of loss of control and of threat, hopelessness, helplessness, fear of death, depersonalization, depressed mood and profound existential suffering.

This study aims to partner with ICU patients/families and clinicians to generate comprehensive data regarding the management of stress and anxiety in the critically ill, and to formulate recommendations for a comprehensive, stress-reducing care strategy.


We rely on patient, family and caregivers’ lived experiences of critical care to help understand critical illness stress and come up with ways to alleviate it.

With your support we can come up with ways of alleviating stress and improve outcomes for patients in the ICU and after-discharge!


Roles and Responsibilities

We invite patients and family members with lived experience of critical care in Edmonton to join the research team as partners.

The study will include 4 phases with active patient partner engagement and participation at all the 4 stages: 1) identification of research priorities, 2) identification of types and manifestations of psychological stress responses in the ICU, 3) identification of helpful caring and coping strategies, and 4) formulation of recommendations for a comprehensive approach to alleviating stress in the ICU.

Patient partners will be expected to provide input, feedback and direction on research priorities, study protocol and objectives as well as providing their insight regarding psychological stress in the ICU.

Additionally, there is the opportunity to partner in data collection, analysis and interpretation and co-authorship of research outcomes and publications.


Time Commitment

Patient partners will be invited to attend up to 6 focus groups (2 or 4 hours each), and monthly to bi-monthly meetings (1 hour long) either in person or by teleconference. The degree of involvement and number of meetings attended will depend on each partner’s availability. Anticipated period of engagement is for a year starting in March 2020.



Reimbursement will be provided for all expenses related to participating in the study including travel and accommodation.

Additionally, patient partners will be compensated for task-based work (e.g. contributing to data interpretation and attending focus groups) at a rate of $25 per hour.

Complimentary refreshments and /or light meals will be provided at in-person meetings and focus groups.

Training sessions will be available to support individuals who want to learn more about partnering in health research.


Contact Information

Interested in sharing your experiences with us? Please connect with:


Elizabeth Papathanassoglou