To examine to what extent availability of social integration affects health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in former intensive care unit (ICU) patients and how it relates to corresponding findings in a general reference group.
HRQoL data (SF-36) were collected from three combined medical and surgical ICUs in the south-east of Sweden. Social integration was assessed by the Availability of Social Integration (AVSI) instrument (seven questions related to the social interaction of the patient). As reference group, a random sample (n = 6,093) of people from the uptake area of the hospitals was used. Social integration (AVSI), HRQoL (SF-36), and comorbidity were examined also in the reference group.
The level of social integration significantly affected HRQoL for the former ICU patients, whereas no such effect was seen for the general reference group. For the ICU patients, social integration affected HRQoL to a larger extent than age, sex, and the ICU-related factors examined, but to a lower extent than the pre-existing diseases.
For a comprehensive assessment of HRQoL in former ICU patients, it is mandatory to include the effect of social integration.