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Haunted by hallucinations: Children in the PICU traumatized by delusions
Date:5/1/2008

Nearly one in three children admitted to pediatric intensive care will experience delusions or hallucinations, which put them at higher risk for post-traumatic stress symptoms, according to a new study of childrens experiences in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

The study, which appears in the first issue for May of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society, is believed to be the largest ever conducted on childrens memories of PICU.

The results confirmed the clinical experience of the studys first author, Gillian Colville, B.Sc., M.Phil., a clinical psychologist, and underscore the need to look at this issue more closely. I have worked for 16 years in pediatric intensive care and have seen a considerable number of children in distress, but have found that there is very little in the literature about childrens experiences, said Ms. Colville.

To determine whether she was witnessing a unique population of children, or if hallucinations and delusional memories were an overlooked but common experience for children in the PICU, Ms. Colville and her collaborators recruited children over the age of seven who were discharged from the 21-bed PICU at Great Ormond Street Childrens Hospital in London, over the course of 18 months. Each childs medical condition and treatment was noted and they were given a psychological interview three months after discharge to screen them for post-traumatic stress symptoms in relation to their memories.

Of the 102 children who completed interviews, two in three recalled something factual about their stay at the PICU and half of these had only fragmentary, single memories, mostly images of family members. But one in three children reported delusional memories of their stay in PICU, including hallucinations. It was these children who reported delusional memories that had a significantly higher score on the post-traumatic stress screenin
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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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