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The development of acute post-traumatic stress disorder after orofacial injury: a prospective study in a large urban hospital.

PURPOSE: Psychologic distress is a common outcome among trauma survivors. This report examines both the development and predictors of acute post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in a sample of US inner-city orofacial trauma survivors seeking treatment in a publicly funded hospital.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Baseline data were collected from 336 patients seeking urgent care for an oral injury (mandibular or midfacial fracture). Participants were predominantly unemployed, unmarried, African American or Hispanic men in their 30s. One-month follow-up assessments of PTSD symptoms were conducted on the available 84% of the sample.

RESULTS: Absolute levels of PTSD symptoms were high at 1 month; 25% of the sample appeared to meet diagnostic criteria for acute PTSD, based on a self-report of symptoms. Variables associated with self-reports of higher rates of PTSD symptoms included older age, being female, prior psychologic disturbance as reflected in lifetime and current mental health and social service need and use, exposure to and distress at a prior trauma as well as overall high rates of stressful life events in the past year, injury pain, psychologic distress at hospital discharge, and unmet social support needs during the recovery phase.

CONCLUSIONS: A substantial subsample of these traumatized medical patients had negative psychologic outcomes at 1 month. Results underscore the potential use of screening survivors of orofacial injury at urban trauma centers for PTSD and developing systems of care that facilitate referral to appropriate psychologic treatment.

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