Why make an ICU diary ?

For the patient

A patient hospitalized in the intensive care unit often goes through a period of coma, either in connection with the need to sedate in order to be able to treat the illness, or because of a neurological event (illness, trauma). This period of coma, although unavoidable in many situations, means that the patient will have little or no recollection of what he or she has been through when he or she wakes up. 


To this may be added one or more periods of confusion around the time of awakening, when the patient may be delirious and have hallucinations. This is related to multiple causes such as a serious infection, certain medications, lack of deep sleep, disruption of the nycthemeral rhythm (day/night rhythm), etc. 

This amnesia can cover a large part of the hospitalization in intensive care, and will be extremely disturbing for the patient: when he or she wakes up, he or she will experience the consequences of a hospitalization that he or she will remember little or not at all, in bits and pieces, or through memories of dreams, nightmares or hallucinations. A good way to help patients regain a foothold and reappropriate their history is to write a diary.


The ICU diary will allow them to :

  • Fill the missing gaps
  • Put strange and delusional memories into context (delusions caused by certain medications, sepsis, fluid disturbances, etc.)
  • Understand why, when they wake up, their body seems so weak, so fragile, so painful sometimes, and understand the time needed for recovery
  • To disentangle the real from the hypothetical among his strange memories
  • Rebuild their history
  • Promote psychological remission, limit guilt, anxiety, depressive symptoms and post-traumatic stress symptoms
  • To better understand the experience of their relatives during their hospitalization, their sometimes overprotective attitude and thus limit the tensions that could appear


For relatives

Being the loved one of a person hospitalized in intensive care is a cause of stress, anxiety and sometimes depression. Writing an ICU diary can help to verbalize one’s feelings and unload stress, but also, if the ICU diary is shared with the care team, to read and reread the messages written by the team and thus to develop a sense of belonging.improve his understanding of the situation by assimilating information at his own pace.
The relatives of patients hospitalized in intensive care often find themselves at a loss to help their loved one. The ICU diary is a proven tool and can be a simple and extremely useful assignment for your loved one. It also allows to leave something near the patient, a paper presence, to keep them company in the absence of their relatives.
"It's not the same feeling when I leave her... if she wakes up, she'll still have the book and our words right next to her, all the time."
Husband of a patient


For caregivers


Writing a journal for your loved one can also help caregivers understand you better if you leave some of the messages accessible to everyone. This can help them to better understand and respond to the anxieties of loved ones. It can also help them detect some misunderstandings and adjust their messages. The ICU diary is also a good way for caregivers to personalize their care, it is often very satisfying care!