Objectives: This study prospectively followed a cohort of orthopaedic trauma patients to identify risk factors that contribute to depression in patients with skeletal injuries.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: Level I trauma center.
Patients: One hundred ten orthopaedic trauma patients admitted as inpatients.
Main outcome measurements: Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores.
Results: One hundred ten patients were enrolled at the time of injury in which 22 patients had moderate-to-major depression and 36 patients had mild depression. Forty-eight patients completed the follow-up surveys that were taken, on average, 9 months after the date of injury. Factors that were significant for mild depression (PHQ-9 >4) at the time of injury included a history of illegal drug use (P = 0.037) and a lower Duke Social Support and Stress Scale (DUSOCS) support score (P = 0.002). The duke social support and stress scale score had a negative Pearson correlation coefficient with PHQ-9 (n = -0.18, P = 0.03). Factors that were significant for moderate-to-major depression (PHQ-9 >9) at the time of injury were a history of a psychiatric diagnosis (P = 0.0009) and unemployment at injury (P = 0.039). Both a history of psychiatric diagnosis and an elevated PHQ-9 score at the time of injury were predictors of having depression at 9 months (P = 0.02 and P = 0.001, respectively). Also, patients with Medicaid insurance had a significant increase in their depression scores at 9 months (P = 0.02).
Conclusion: Depression was quite prevalent in our patient sample. A previous psychiatric diagnosis predisposed patients to depression. The socioeconomic status was also a predictive factor for increased depression scores at 9 months. Patients with a higher feeling of support from friends and family had an inverse correlation for depression. Employment also seems to have a protective effect against depression. Surprisingly, the severity of injury did not affect the depression score. Targeted consultation with a mental health care provider may obviate any morbidity that is associated with depression in an injured patient.
Level of evidence: Prognostic Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.