Background: This study examined the prevalence, severity, and predictors of persistent traumatic stress symptoms in socioeconomically disadvantaged adults after orofacial injury.
Methods: A 1-year prospective study of 336 socioeconomically disadvantaged adults treated for orofacial injury at a Level I trauma center was conducted. Univariate analyses were performed on early measures of injury characteristics, prior trauma exposure, coping resources, and psychosocial functioning to select potential predictors of 1-year posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) scores; independence of variable contribution was then evaluated in multiple regression analyses.
Results: A substantial number of patients (23%) continued to experience significant PTSD symptomatology at 12 months. Predictors of PTSD symptoms at 12 months included current and lifetime mental health and social service needs, lifetime social service use, prior trauma exposure, sum of stressful life events in the year preceding injury, patient report of pain severity and inadequate social support at 10 days postdischarge, and PTSD scores at 1 month. One-month PTSD symptoms, unmet social service need, and need for more instrumental and emotional support were independent predictors of 12-month PTSD outcomes. Limitations include loss to follow up, use of self-report measures, and the possibility of additional traumatization in the follow-up year influencing symptom levels.
Conclusions: Many socioeconomically disadvantaged adults manifest negative psychological outcomes even 1 year after an orofacial injury. Poor social support and unmet social service needs immediately after the injury, as well as high PTSD symptoms at 1 month postinjury, are strongly associated with the risk of developing chronic PTSD. The surgical management of orofacial injuries in disadvantaged individuals should integrate case management that addresses psychosocial sequelae and patient service needs.