Trauma in adolescents causes long-term marked deficits in quality of life: adolescent children do not recover preinjury quality of life or function up to two years postinjury compared to national norms

J Trauma. 2007 Mar;62(3):577-83; discussion 583. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e318031aa97.


Background: Injury is a leading cause of death and preventable morbidity in adolescents. Little is known about long-term quality of life (QoL) outcomes in injured adolescents. The objectives of the present report are to describe long-term QoL outcomes and compare posttrauma QoL to national norms for QoL in uninjured adolescents from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Methods: In all, 401 trauma patients aged 12 to 19 years were enrolled in the study. Enrollment criteria excluded 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). Patient outcomes were assessed at discharge, and 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months after discharge. NHIS data were based on 3 survey years and represent a population-based U.S. national random sample of uninjured adolescents.

Results: Major trauma in adolescents was associated with significant and marked deficits in QoL throughout the 24-month follow-up period, compared with NHIS norms for this age group. Compared with NHIS norms for QoL in uninjured adolescents aged 12 to 19 years (N = 81,216,835; QWB mean = 0.876), injured adolescents after major trauma had striking and significant QoL deficits beginning at 3-month follow-up (QWB mean = 0.694, p < 0.0001), that continued throughout the long-term follow-up 24 months after discharge (6-month follow-up QWB mean = 0.726, p < 0.0001; 12-month follow-up QWB mean = 0.747, p < 0.0001; 18-month follow-up QWB mean = 0.758, p < 0.0001; 24-month follow-up QWB mean = 0.766, p < 0.0001). QoL deficits were also strongly associated with age (>or=15 years) and female sex. Other significant risk factors for poor QoL outcomes were perceived threat to life, pedestrian struck mechanism, and Injury Severity Scores >16.

Conclusions: Major trauma in adolescents is associated with significant and marked deficits in long-term QoL outcomes, compared with U.S. norms for healthy adolescents. Early identification and treatment of risk factors for poor long-term QoL outcomes must become an integral component of trauma care in mature trauma care systems.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Quality of Life*
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Sickness Impact Profile*
  • Wounds and Injuries* / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries* / pathology
  • Wounds and Injuries* / psychology