Background: Injury is the leading cause of death and functional disability in adolescent children. Little is known about quality of life and psychological outcomes after trauma in adolescents. The Trauma Recovery Project in Adolescents is a prospective epidemiologic study designed to examine multiple outcomes after major trauma in adolescents aged 12 to 19 years, including quality of life (QoL) and psychological sequelae such as acute stress disorder (ASD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The specific objectives of the present report are to examine ASD rates and the association of ASD with QoL outcomes in injured adolescents.
Methods: Between April 26, 1999, and November 13, 2002, 401 eligible trauma patients aged 12 to 19 years triaged to five participating trauma center hospitals in a regionalized trauma system were enrolled in the study. The admission criteria for patients were as follows: (1) age 12 to 19 years and (2) injury diagnoses excluding severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury. QoL after trauma was measured using the Quality of Well-being (QWB) scale, a sensitive and well-validated functional index (range, 0 = death to 1.000 = optimum functioning). ASD (before discharge) was diagnosed with the Impact of Events Scale-Revised. Scores of 24+ were used to diagnose ASD. Patient outcomes were assessed at discharge and at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months after discharge.
Results: ASD before discharge was diagnosed in 40% of adolescent trauma survivors. ASD status was associated with large QoL deficits during follow-up, as follows: 3-month, ASD-positive QWB score = 0.667 vs. ASD-negative QWB score = 0.710, p < 0.01; 6-month, ASD-positive QWB score = 0.704 vs. ASD-negative QWB score = 0.742, p < 0.001; 12-month: ASD-positive QWB score = 0.718 vs. ASD-negative QWB score = 0.757, p < 0.01; 24-month, ASD-positive QWB score = 0.725 vs. ASD-negative QWB score = 0.769, p < 0.01. Female sex and violent mechanism predicted ASD risk (47% female vs. 36% male; odds ratio, 1.6; p < 0.05; violence 54% vs. 38%; odds ratio, 1.9; p < 0.01).
Conclusions: Adolescent trauma survivors have high rates of ASD. ASD severely impacts QoL outcomes and is associated with female sex and mechanism of injury in adolescents. Early recognition and treatment of ASD in seriously injured adolescents will improve QoL outcomes.