Predicting posttraumatic stress after hospitalization for pediatric injury

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2000 May;39(5):576-83. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200005000-00011.


Objective: To determine the prevalence and predictors of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children after hospitalizations for accidental injuries.

Method: Forty-eight children (aged 7-17 years) and their parents were assessed during hospitalization with measures of children's prior traumatization, prior psychopathology, injury severity, parental acute distress, and child acute distress. At outpatient follow-up at least 1 month later, children were evaluated for current PTSD diagnosis and PTSD symptomatology (PTSDS) by a child structured interview and for PTSDS by a parent questionnaire.

Results: A total of 12.5% had the full syndrome of PTSD at follow-up, and an additional 16.7% had partial (sub-syndromal) PTSD. Full PTSD was associated with a higher level of prior psychopathology, higher parental acute distress, and higher rates of prior sexual abuse, compared with partial or no PTSD. Prior psychopathology, parental distress, and, to a lesser extent, children's acute distress as reported by parents and breadth of prior traumatization, predicted subsequent PTSDS.

Conclusions: Full or partial PTSD is relatively common in youths 1 month or more after hospitalization for injuries. Parents' acute distress as well as children's prior psychopathology, prior traumatization, and acute distress may be useful predictors of such injured children's subsequent PTSD or PTSDS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / rehabilitation*