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Among injury victims relatively high prevalence rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been found. PTSD is associated with functional impairments and decreased health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Previous studies that addressed the latter were restricted to injuries at the higher end of the severity spectrum. This study examined the association between PTSD symptoms and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in a comprehensive population of injury patients of all severity levels and external causes.
We conducted a self-assessment survey which included items regarding demographics of the patient, accident type, sustained injuries, EuroQol health classification system (EQ-5D) and Health Utilities Index (HUI) to measure functional outcome and HRQoL, and the Impact of Event Scale (IES) to measure PTSD symptoms. An IES-score of 35 or higher was used as indication for the presence of PTSD. The survey was completed by 1,781 injury patients two years after they were treated at the Emergency Department (ED), followed by either hospital admission or direct discharge to the home environment.
Symptoms indicative of PTSD were associated with more problems on all EQ-5D and HUI3 domains of functional outcome and a considerable utility loss in both hospitalized (0.23-0.24) and non-hospitalized (0.32-0.33) patients. Differences in reported problems between patients with IES scores higher or lower than 35 were largest for EQ-5D health domains pain/discomfort (82% versus 28%) and anxiety/depression (53% versus 11%) and HUI domains emotion (92% versus 33%) and pain (84% versus 38%). After adjusting for potential confounders, PTSD remained strongly associated with adverse HRQoL.
Among patients treated at an ED posttraumatic stress symptoms indicative of PTSD were associated with a considerable decrease in HRQoL in both hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients. PTSD symptoms may therefore raise a major barrier for full recovery of injury patients of even minor levels of severity.