Psychiatric morbidity following electrical injury and its effects on cognitive functioning

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. Jul-Aug 2009;31(4):360-6. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2009.03.010. Epub 2009 May 9.


Objective: This study examines the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity in a large sample of electrical injury (EI) patients in three phases of recovery and its effects on cognitive functioning.

Methods: Eight-six self-referred EI patients received psychiatric and neuropsychological evaluations. Descriptive statistics were conducted to examine the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity. Polytomous logistic regression was used to identify predictors of psychiatric diagnosis. Between-subjects analysis of variances (ANOVA) was conducted to examine the effects of psychiatric morbidity on cognitive functioning.

Results: Seventy-eight percent of subjects warranted a psychiatric diagnosis. Long-term patients compared to acute patients were more likely to be diagnosed with two diagnoses than not having any diagnosis (OR=14.30, 95% CI 1.40-38.71). Patients with two diagnoses performed worse than both patients with a single or no diagnosis on all cognitive outcome measures (P<.05). Voltage level, chronic pain and litigation status did not predict psychiatric morbidity.

Conclusions: Psychiatric difficulties commonly emerge and persist following EI. EI patients with psychiatric conditions exhibited poorer cognitive performance as compared to EI patients with no post-injury psychiatric difficulties. Health care professionals need to devote careful attention to psychiatric and cognitive status when treating survivors of EI.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Convalescence / psychology
  • Electric Injuries / complications*
  • Electric Injuries / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors