Objective: To identify the key mechanisms that clinicians perceive improve care in the intensive care unit (ICU), as a result of their involvement in post-ICU programs.

Methods: Qualitative inquiry via focus groups and interviews with members of the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s THRIVE collaborative sites (follow-up clinics and peer support). Framework analysis was used to synthesize and interpret the data.

Results: Five key mechanisms were identified as drivers of improvement back into the ICU: (1) identifying otherwise unseen targets for ICU quality improvement or education programs—new ideas for quality improvement were generated and greater attention paid to detail in clinical care. (2) Creating a new role for survivors in the ICU—former patients and family members adopted an advocacy or peer volunteer role. (3) Inviting critical care providers to the post-ICU program to educate, sensitize, and motivate them—clinician peers and trainees were invited to attend as a helpful learning strategy to gain insights into post-ICU care requirements. (4) Changing clinician’s own understanding of patient experience—there appeared to be a direct individual benefit from working in post-ICU programs. (5) Improving morale and meaningfulness of ICU work—this was achieved by closing the feedback loop to ICU clinicians regarding patient and family outcomes.

Conclusions: The follow-up of patients and families in post-ICU care settings is perceived to improve care within the ICU via five key mechanisms. Further research is required in this novel area.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Intensive Care Medicine, v. 45, issue 7, p. 939-947.

© The Author(s) 2019

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Due to the large number of authors, only the first 30 and the authors affiliated with the University of Kentucky are listed in the author section above. For the complete list of authors, please download this article or visit: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-019-05647-5

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Funding Information

K Haines, J McPeake, L Boehm, C Sevin and Tara Quasim are currently receiving funding from SCCM to undertake this work. L Boehm is funded by NIH/NHLBI (K12 HL137943) as is T J Iwashyna National Institutes of Health (US) (K12 HL138039).

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