The importance of psychological morbidity after major trauma, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is continuing to gain attention in trauma outcomes research. The Trauma Recovery Project is a large prospective epidemiologic study designed to examine multiple outcomes after major trauma, including quality of life (QoL) and PTSD. Patient outcomes were assessed at discharge and at 6, 12, and 18 months after discharge. The specific objectives of the present report are to examine gender differences in prolonged PTSD (L-PTSD) and to assess the impact of PTSD by gender on QoL at the 6-, 12-, and 18-month follow-up time points in the Trauma Recovery Project population.Methods
Between 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 the following: age 18 years and older; admission Glasgow Coma Scale score of 12 or greater; and length of stay greater than 24 hours. QoL was measured after injury using the Quality of Well-being (QWB) scale, a sensitive index to the well end of the functioning continuum (range: 0 = death to 1.000 = optimum functioning). Early symptoms of acute stress reaction (SASR) at discharge were assessed using the Impact of Events Scale (score > 30 = SASR). PTSD at 6-, 12-, and 18-month follow-up was diagnosed using standardized Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria. PTSD (L-PTSD) was diagnosed if full or partial (F + P) or full (F) PTSD Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria were present at all follow-up time points.Results
PTSD (L-PTSD) (F + P) was diagnosed in 35% (221 of 627) of patients at follow-up. PTSD (L-PTSD) (F) was present in 32% (153 of 627). Women were at significantly higher risk of PTSD (F + P) (odds ratio = 2.4, p = 0.001) and PTSD (F) (odds ratio = 2.8, p = 0.001) than men. The association of gender with PTSD was independent of mechanism and injury event-related factors such as perceived threat to life. In multivariate logistic regression, female gender, perceived threat to life, and SASR were strongly and independently associated with PTSD risk. Women were also at risk for worse QWB outcomes; beginning at discharge through the 18-month follow-up, women had significantly lower QWB scores at each follow-up time than men, regardless of prolonged PTSD status.Conclusion
These results provide important new evidence that high rates of PTSD persist in the long-term aftermath of major trauma. The association of gender with PTSD was independent of mechanism and injury event-related factors such as perceived threat to life. Within categories of specific mechanism of injury and injury event-related factors, women were at significantly higher risk of prolonged PTSD onset. Prolonged PTSD was associated with significantly reduced quality of life in both men and women, with markedly worse QWB outcomes in women regardless of prolonged PTSD status.