Posttraumatic disorders following injury: an empirical and methodological review

Clin Psychol Rev. 2003 Jul;23(4):587-603. doi: 10.1016/s0272-7358(03)00036-9.


Although there has been a marked increase in research on psychological disorders following physical injury in recent years, there are many discrepancies between the reported findings. This paper reviews the prevalence outcomes of recent studies of the mental health sequelae of physical injury with a focus on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder (ASD), and depression. The review critically outlines some of the methodological factors that may have contributed to these discrepancies. The phenomenological overlap between organic and psychogenic symptoms, the use of narcotic analgesia, the role of brain injury, the timing and content of assessments, and litigation are discussed in terms of their potential to confound findings with this population. Recommendations are proposed to clarify methodological approaches in this area. It is suggested that a clearer understanding of the psychological effects of physical injury will require the widespread adoption of more rigorous, standardized and transparent methodological procedures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*