Posttraumatic stress, functional impairment, and service utilization after injury: a public health approach

Semin Clin Neuropsychiatry. 2003 Jul;8(3):149-57. doi: 10.1016/s1084-3612(03)00017-0.


Each year in the United States approximately 2.5 million Americans incur injuries so severe that they require inpatient admissions to acute care medical settings. This article reviews the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related comorbid medical conditions among injured trauma survivors. Between 10% and 40% of injured trauma survivors appear to develop PTSD in the weeks and months after their injury. The symptoms of PTSD are clearly linked to a broad spectrum of functional impairment and diminished well-being in injured patients. Although PTSD, depression, somatic amplification, and recurrent substance use are common disturbances after injury, it appears that few symptomatic trauma survivors receive formal mental health evaluation or treatment. Substantial perceived and structural barriers to accessing care exist for injured trauma survivors. The public health significance of these findings is discussed and implications for future intervention development are explored in the following chapters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / rehabilitation
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology