Psychological symptoms were examined in patients (N =77) attending a hospital major trauma outcome clinic at Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia three months after discharge from hospital. The study focused on predictors of post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety that can be routinely ascertained by busy hospital staff, namely: age, pain location, injury severity, memory (complete, partial or none) of the event. Results indicated that younger patients (15-32 years), patients reporting chronic pain (particularly diffuse pain), and patients with partial memory of the traumatic event, (compared with complete or no memory) had poorer psychological outcomes. Patients in the older age groups (33-48 and 49-77) were generally more resilient.
This exploratory study found that age, diffuse pain and partial memory are potential predictors of PTSD, depression and anxiety. lt is well known that many who experience a physical trauma recover within one year of their traumatic experience but that those who remain affected for one year rarely recover completely. This study therefore highlights the importance of early detection and treatment especially in younger trauma patients in order to alleviate the adverse personal, psychosocial and financial ramifications of prolonged disability. lt is in the interest of optimal patient care as well as the health care system that bears the financial burden of non-recovery to be able to identify and address early any problems that may arise.