Objective: To investigate the relationship between the dose of morphine administered during a child's hospitalization for an acute burn and the course of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms over the 6-month period following discharge from the hospital.
Method: Twenty-four children admitted to the hospital for an acute burn were assessed twice with the Child PTSD Reaction Index: while in the hospital and 6 months after discharge. The Colored Analogue Pain Scale was also administered during the hospitalization. All patients received morphine while in the hospital. The mean dose of morphine (mg/kg/day) was calculated for each subject through chart review.
Results: The Pearson product moment correlation revealed a significant association between the dose of morphine received while in the hospital and a 6-month reduction in PTSD symptoms. Children receiving higher doses of morphine had a greater reduction in PTSD symptoms over 6 months.
Conclusions: This study suggests the possibility that acute treatment with morphine can secondarily prevent PTSD. This result is discussed in terms of the possible effect of morphine on fear conditioning and the consolidation of traumatic memory.