Background: Injured survivors of individual and mass trauma are at risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Few investigations have assessed PTSD after injury in large samples across diverse acute care hospital settings.
Method: A total of 2931 injured trauma survivors aged 18-84 who were representative of 9983 in-patients were recruited from 69 hospitals across the USA. In-patient medical records were abstracted, and hospitalized patients were interviewed at 3 and 12 months after injury. Symptoms consistent with a DSM-IV diagnosis of PTSD were assessed with the PTSD Checklist (PCL) 12 months after injury.
Results: Approximately 23% of injury survivors had symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of PTSD 12 months after their hospitalization. Greater levels of early post-injury emotional distress and physical pain were associated with an increased risk of symptoms consistent with a PTSD diagnosis. Pre-injury, intensive care unit (ICU) admission [relative risk (RR) 1.17, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02-1.34], pre-injury depression (RR 1.33, 95% CI 1.15-1.54), benzodiazepine prescription (RR 1.46, 95% CI 1.17-1.84) and intentional injury (RR 1.32, 95% CI 1.04-1.67) were independently associated with an increased risk of symptoms consistent with a PTSD diagnosis. White injury survivors without insurance demonstrated approximately twice the rate of symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of PTSD when compared to white individuals with private insurance. By contrast, for Hispanic injury survivors PTSD rates were approximately equal between uninsured and privately insured individuals.
Conclusions: Nationwide in the USA, more than 20% of injured trauma survivors have symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of PTSD 12 months after acute care in-patient hospitalization. Coordinated investigative and policy efforts could target mandates for high-quality PTSD screening and intervention in acute care medical settings.