Screening for traumatic stress among survivors of urban trauma

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2012 Aug;73(2):462-7; discussion 467-8. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31825ff713.


Objective: This study piloted the use of the Primary Care PTSD (PC-PTSD) screening tool in an outpatient setting to determine its utility for broader use and to gather data on traumatic stress symptoms among direct (patients) and indirect (families) survivors of traumatic injuries.

Methods: Using the PC-PTSD plus one question exploring openness to seeking help, participants were screened for PTSD in the outpatient clinic of an urban Level 1 trauma center. The survey was distributed during a 23-week period from April to September 2011. The screen was self-administered, a sample of convenience, and participation was voluntary and anonymous.

Results: With a response rate of 66%, 307 surveys were completed. Forty-two percent of participants had a positive screen. Patients greater than 30 and 90 days from injury had 1.5 and 1.7 times more positive screens than those less than 30 days. Patients with gunshot wounds were 13 times as likely as those with falls and twice as likely as those in a motor vehicle crash to have a positive screen. Sixty percent of patients with a positive screen noted it would be helpful to talk to someone.

Conclusion: The PC-PTSD was an easy to administer screening tool. Patients reported PTSD symptoms at higher rates than previous studies. Patients with gunshot wounds and those injured greater than 30 days from the time of the screen were more likely to report PTSD symptoms. Although males represented 82% of positive screens, there was no statistical difference in PTSD symptoms between male and female participants because of the small number of females represented. Families also reported significant levels of PTSD. Both patients and families may benefit from additional screening and intervention in the early posttrauma period.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Distribution
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Survivors
  • Trauma Centers
  • Urban Population
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy
  • Young Adult