Mental health following traumatic physical injury: an integrative literature review

Injury. 2013 Nov;44(11):1383-90. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2012.02.015. Epub 2012 Mar 10.


Aim: To investigate the state of knowledge on the relationship between physical trauma and mental health in patients admitted to hospital with traumatic physical injury.

Background: Adults who sustain traumatic physical injury can experience a range of mental health problems related to the injury and subsequent changes in physical health and function. However early screening and identification of mental health problems after traumatic physical injury is inconsistent and not routine during the hospital admission process for the physically injured patient.

Methods: Integrative review methods were used. Data were sourced for the period 1995-2010 from EMBASE, CINAHL, MEDLINE and PsycINFO and hand searching of key references. Abstracts were screened by 3 researchers against inclusion/exclusion criteria. Forty-one papers met the inclusion criteria. Data were retrieved, appraised for quality, analysed, and synthesised into 5 main categories.

Results: Forty-one primary research papers on the relationship between mental health and traumatic physical injury were reviewed. Studies showed that post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety were frequent sequelae associated with traumatic physical injury. However, these conditions were poorly identified and treated in the acute hospital phase despite their effect on physical health.

Conclusion: There is limited understanding of the experience of traumatic physical injury, particularly in relation to mental health. Greater translation of research findings to practice is needed in order to promote routine screening, early identification and referral to treatment for mental health problems in this patient group.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Injury; Integrative literature review; Post traumatic stress disorder; Stress; Trauma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis*
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Needs Assessment
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*