Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Haunted By Hallucinations: Children In The Pediatric ICU Traumatized By Delusions

Date:
May 1, 2008
Source:
American Thoracic Society
Summary:
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 children's experiences in a pediatric intensive care unit.

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 children's experiences in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

The study is believed to be the largest ever conducted on children's memories of PICU.

The results confirmed the clinical experience of the study's 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 children's 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 Children's Hospital in London, over the course of 18 months. Each child's 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 screening test than others.

"These findings are interesting because it has been assumed that the actual experiences in the PICU would be more likely to lead to post-traumatic stress symptoms following discharge," said Ms. Colville. "However, our results indicate that post-traumatic stress symptoms are associated with delusional memories rather than factual ones. The hallucinations children reported were overwhelmingly disturbing and frightening, similar to those reported by adult intensive care patients and heroin addicts going through withdrawal."

The findings have important clinical implications, as the timing of the hallucinations appeared to coincide with the period during which they were being weaned off the sedatives commonly prescribed on PICU (benzodiazepines and opiates) and children were five times as likely to report having had delusions or hallucinations if they had been prescribed opiates and benzodiazepines for more than two days.

The authors do not suggest that the drugs be discontinued, but that they do warrant further study. Additional research could establish whether alternative types of sedation or the introduction of drug holidays might produce fewer traumatic delusional memories. The authors also suggest altering the physical environment and providing psychological orientation cues for children in the PICU, such as demarcating day and night, to help reduce these symptoms.

"But above all, medical professionals and families should be made aware of the possibility that children may have these disturbing hallucinatory experiences, and greater efforts should be made to monitor their psychological adjustment after PICU," said Ms. Colville.

This research appears in the first issue for May of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Thoracic Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Thoracic Society. "Haunted By Hallucinations: Children In The Pediatric ICU Traumatized By Delusions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080501062745.htm>.
American Thoracic Society. (2008, May 1). Haunted By Hallucinations: Children In The Pediatric ICU Traumatized By Delusions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080501062745.htm
American Thoracic Society. "Haunted By Hallucinations: Children In The Pediatric ICU Traumatized By Delusions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080501062745.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins