Aims and objectivesThis study investigates health-related quality of life in older patients, over one year following an intensive care unit stay. BackgroundHealth-related quality of life is an important outcome when assessing long-term effectiveness of intensive care treatment, and to assist patients, their relatives and healthcare professionals in making treatment decisions. DesignProspective non-randomised longitudinal study. MethodsThe Short Form Health Survey 36 was administered 1week after an intensive care stay (retrospective baseline), and after sixmonths and 12months to the study population and to an age-matched comparison group at recruitment (baseline), and after six months and 12months. Demographic data, admission diagnosis, length of stay, severity of illness, pain, anxiety, agitation, and intratracheal suctioning, turning and intubation were recorded. Recruitment period: December 2008 to April 2011. ResultsHealth-related quality of life of the older patients was significantly lower than the comparison group, both before and after the intensive care unit stay, and showed great individual variability. Within group scores, however, were stable over the year. Both physical and mental health scores were lower for the older patients. Renal failure, cardiac surgery and illness severity wereassociated with lower physical health scores. Cardiovascular illness, intratracheal suctioning and turning were associated with lower mental health scores. ConclusionsHealth-related quality of life was lower in older patients than in the age-matched group but remained stable over one year. Relevance to clinical practiceOlder patients with severe illnesses, acute renal failure or who have had cardiac surgery, need additional support after hospital discharge due to functional restrictions. Discharge planning should ensure that this support would be provided. Special attention should be given to develop and use methods to reduce distress during routine intensive care interventions such as intratracheal suctioning or turning.