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Pain in the aftermath of trauma is a risk factor for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Norman SB, Stein MB, Dimsdale JE, Hoyt DB. Pain in the aftermath of trauma is a risk factor for post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychological medicine. 2008 Apr 1; 38(4):533-42.

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BACKGROUND: Identifying risk factors for the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is important for understanding and ultimately preventing the disorder. This study assessed pain shortly after traumatic injury (i.e. peritraumatic pain) as a risk factor for PTSD.METHOD: Participants (n = 115) were patients admitted to a Level 1 Surgical Trauma Center. Admission to this service reflected a severe physical injury requiring specialized, emergent trauma care. Participants completed a pain questionnaire within 48 h of traumatic injury and a PTSD diagnostic module 4 and 8 months later. RESULTS: Peritraumatic pain was associated with an increased risk of PTSD, even after controlling for a number of other significant risk factors other than acute stress disorder symptoms. An increase of 0.5 s.d. from the mean in a 0-10 pain rating scale 24-48 h after injury was associated with an increased odds of PTSD at 4 months by more than fivefold, and at 8 months by almost sevenfold. A single item regarding amount of pain at the time of hospital admission correctly classified 65% of participants. CONCLUSIONS: If these findings are replicated in other samples, high levels of peritraumatic pain could be used to identify individuals at elevated risk for PTSD following traumatic injury.

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