Study objectives: This study investigated the extent to which sleep disturbance in the period immediately prior to a traumatic event predicted development of subsequent psychiatric disorder.
Design: Prospective design cohort study.
Setting: Four major trauma hospitals across Australia.
Patients: A total of 1033 traumatically injured patients were initially assessed during hospital admission and followed up at 3 months (898) after injury.
Measures: Lifetime psychiatric disorder was assessed in hospital with the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Sleep disturbance in the 2 weeks prior to injury was also assessed using the Sleep Impairment Index. The prevalence of psychiatric disorder was assessed 3 months after traumatic injury.
Results: There were 255 (28%) patients with a psychiatric disorder at 3 months. Patients who displayed sleep disturbance prior to the injury were more likely to develop a psychiatric disorder at 3 months (odds ratio: 2.44, 95% CI: 1.62-3.69). In terms of patients who had never experienced a prior disorder (n = 324), 96 patients (30%) had a psychiatric disorder at 3 months, and these patients were more likely to develop disorder if they displayed prior sleep disturbance (odds ratio: 3.16, 95% CI: 1.59-4.75).
Conclusions: These findings provide evidence that sleep disturbance prior to a traumatic event is a risk factor for development of posttraumatic psychiatric disorder.