Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs after an individual experiences some traumatic event, such as warfare or disaster. While many have studied PTSD in the military, a new study looks at PTSD in civilians. This new studied identified risk factors of PTSD following a mild traumatic brain injury, allowing for screening for symptoms in at-risk populations.
The results of the study, “Screening for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in a Civilian Emergency Department Population with Traumatic Brain Injury,” were published in the Journal of Neurotrauma. Juliet Haarbauer-Krupa and coauthors found that approximately 27 percent of patients with mild traumatic brain injury who underwent screening at a follow-up after six months were positive for PTSD. Co-authors came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Researchers recruited participants from Level I trauma centers, including San Francisco General Hospital, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and University Medical Center at Brackenridge. They recruited from the multi-center, prospective Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI) pilot study. In all, 280 participants came back for the six month follow-up to screen for PTSD and also had a mild traumatic brain injury, so were included in analysis.
The variables the researchers measured included functional disability, psychiatric symptoms, satisfaction with life, and performance on measures of visual processing and mental flexibility. Variables that also were evaluated included the predictive value of pre-injury education, psychiatric history, and cause of the TBI.
“This study represents yet another important communication originating from the CDC and the TRACK-TBI study group that now reframes PTSD within the context of civilian TBI,” said John T. Povlishock, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Neurotrauma and Professor, Medical College of Virginia Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond in a news release. “The finding of a relatively significant proportion of civilian patients experiencing PTSD following mild TBI calls for its more routine evaluation, particularly in those patients with the added comorbid factors identified in this report.”
One figure estimates that 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. So, this study, with numbers at 27 percent, shows that a significant number of people after a mild traumatic brain injury will experience PTSD.
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.