The Importance of Gender on Outcome after Major Trauma: Functional and Psychologic Outcomes in Women versus Men

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BackgroundOutcome after major trauma is an increasingly important focus of injury research. The effect of gender on functional and psychological outcomes has not been examined. The Trauma Recovery Project is a large, prospective, epidemiologic study designed to examine multiple outcomes after major trauma, including quality of life, functional outcome, and psychological sequelae such as depression and early symptoms of acute stress reaction. The specific objectives of the present report are to examine gender differences in short- and long-term functional and psychological outcomes in the Trauma Recovery Project population.MethodsBetween December 1, 1993, and September 1, 1996, 1,048 eligible trauma patients triaged to four participating trauma center hospitals in the San Diego Regionalized Trauma System were enrolled in the study. The enrollment criteria for the study included age 18 years and older, admission Glasgow Coma Scale score of 12 or greater, and length of stay greater than 24 hours. Quality of life was measured after injury using the Quality of Well-being scale, a sensitive index to the well end of the functioning continuum (range, 0 = death to 1.000 = optimum functioning). Depression was assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale and early symptoms of acute stress reaction were assessed using the Impact of Events scale. Patient outcomes were assessed at discharge and at 6, 12, and 18 months after discharge.ResultsFunctional outcome was significantly worse at each follow-up time point in women (n = 313) versus men (n = 735). Quality of Well-being scale scores were markedly and significantly lower at 6-month follow-up in women compared with those in men (0.606 vs. 0.646, p < 0.0001). This association persisted at 12-month (0.637 vs. 0.6685, p < 0.0001) and 18-month (0.646 vs. 0.6696, p < 0.0001) follow-up. Women were also significantly more likely to be depressed at all follow-up time points (discharge odds ratio [OR] = 1.4, p < 0.05; 6-month follow-up OR = 2.2, p < 0.01; 12-month follow-up OR = 2.0, p < 0.01; 18-month follow-up OR = 2.2, p < 0.01) and to have early symptoms of acute stress reaction at discharge (OR = 1.4, p < 0.05). These differences remained significant and independent after adjusting for injury severity, mechanism, age, and sociodemographic factors.ConclusionWomen are at risk for markedly worse functional and psychological outcomes after major trauma than men, independent of injury severity and mechanism. Gender differences in short- and long-term trauma outcomes have important implications for future studies of recovery from trauma.

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