The physical and mental impact of surviving sepsis – a qualitative study of experiences and perceptions among a Swedish sample

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Sepsis is a critical illness with high morbidity and mortality rates. Each year, sepsis affects about 48.9 million people all over the world. This study aims to illuminate how sepsis survivors experience sepsis and the impact of sepsis, as well as the health-related quality of life thereafter. Methods: An interview study with eight sepsis survivors was carried out in Sweden with an inductive qualitative method. The data were analyzed with content analysis. Results: Four themes were identified during the analysis; The experience of health care and being a sepsis patient, New circumstances´ impact on life, Family and social interactions, and The psychological impact on life. The lack of information about how sepsis can impact the survivors’ lives and what to expect can lead to prolonged agony. The long recovery time comes as an unexpected and unpleasant surprise to those affected. Initially, the sepsis survivors are almost euphoric that they have survived, which can later lead to chock and trauma when they realize that they could have died. This insight needs to be processed in order to reach reconciliation with life after sepsis. Conclusion: Sepsis has a huge impact on both physical and mental aspects of life. Many survivors suffer from persistent residual symptoms of varying degrees, to which they have to adapt. The sepsis survivors need individually adjusted information about the sepsis recovery trajectory, and what to expect during and after the hospital stay.


  • Sabine Apitzsch
  • Lotta Larsson
  • Anna Karin Larsson
  • Adam Linder
External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Region Skåne
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Critical illness, Experiences, Health related quality of life, Morbidity, Sepsis, Sequelae
Original languageEnglish
Article number66
JournalArchives of Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec 1
Publication categoryResearch