Many clinicians have implemented follow-up and aftercare to support patients following ICU. Some of this care is supported and facilitated by peer volunteers. There is limited contemporary work that has explicitly explored volunteer roles within ICU recovery services or the experience of volunteers undertaking these roles. We sought to explore the experience of survivors of critical illness, as volunteers, involved in ICU recovery services and understand their motivation for undertaking these roles.

Qualitative exploration using in-depth semistructured interviews. The study design used an inductive content analysis process. We also documented the roles that were adopted by volunteers in each site involved in the study.

Patients and caregivers were sampled from seven sites across three continents.

Patients and Subjects:
Patients and caregivers who had adopted peer-volunteering roles were undertaken.


Measurements and Main Results:
Twelve patient and caregiver peer volunteers were interviewed. Four key themes were identified. These themes related to the experience of volunteers within ICU recovery services and their motivation for undertaking these roles: 1) self-belief and acceptance, 2) developing peer support, 3) social roles and a sense of purpose, and 4) giving back. Overwhelmingly, participants were positive about the role of the volunteer in the critical care setting.

Peer volunteers undertake a variety of roles in ICU recovery services and during recovery more generally. These roles appear to be of direct benefit to those in these roles. Future research is needed to develop these roles and fully understand the potential impact on the service, including the impact on other patients.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Critical Care Explorations, v. 2, issue 11, e0273.

Written work prepared by employees of the Federal Government as part of their official duties is, under the U.S. Copyright Act, a "work of the United States Government" for which copyright protection under Title 17 of the United States Code is not available. As such, copyright does not extend to the contributions of employees of the Federal Government.

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Funding Information

The authors thank the participants who took the time to complete the interviews, The Society of Critical Care Medicine for funding this work, and the wider THRIVE committee for their ongoing input and support.

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