Never ending stories: Visual diarizing to recreate autobiographical memory of intensive care unit survivors

Document Type

Journal Article


Blackwell Publishing


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Nursing and Midwifery




Ewens B.A., Hendricks J.M., & Sundin D. (2017). Never ending stories: Visual diarizing to recreate autobiographical memory of intensive care unit survivors. Nursing in Critical Care. 22(1), 8 - 18. Available here


Aim: The aim of this study was to explore the potential use of visual diarizing to enable intensive care unit (ICU) survivors to create their story of recovery. Background: An ICU experience can have deleterious psychological and physical effects on survivors leading to reductions in quality of life which for some may be of significant duration. Although there has been exploration of many interventions to support recovery in this group, service provision for survivors remains inconsistent and inadequate. Design and participants: A qualitative interpretive biographical exploration of the ICU experience and recovery phase of ICU survivors using visual diarizing as method. This paper is a component of a larger study and presents an analyses of one participant's visual diary in detail. Methods: Data collection was twofold. The participant was supplied with visual diary materials at 2 months post-hospital discharge and depicted his story in words and pictures for a 3-month period, after which he was interviewed. The interview enabled the participant and researcher to interpret the visual diary and create a biographical account of his ICU stay and recovery journey. Findings: The analysis of one participant's visual diary yielded a wealth of information about his recovery trajectory articulated through the images he chose to symbolize his story. The participant confirmed feelings of persecution whilst in ICU and was unprepared for the physical and psychological disability which ensued following his discharge from hospital. However, his story was one of hope for the future and a determination that good would come out of his experience. He considered using the visual diary enhanced his recovery. Conclusions: The participant perceived that visual diarizing enhanced his recovery trajectory by enabling him to recreate his story using visual imagery in a prospective diary. Relevance to clinical practice: Prospective visual diarizing with ICU survivors may have potential as an aid to recovery.



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