The Effect of Early Psychological Symptom Severity on Long-term Functional Recovery: A Secondary Analysis of Data from a Cohort Study of Minor Injury Patients

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School of Nursing Departmental Papers
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Depressive symptoms
Recovery of function
Medicine and Health Sciences
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Background: The mental health consequences of injuries can interfere with recovery to pre-injury levels of function and long term wellbeing. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between psychological symptoms after minor injury and long-term functional recovery and disability. Design: This exploratory study uses secondary data derived from a longitudinal cohort study of psychological outcomes after minor injury. Setting: Participants were recruited from the Emergency Department of an urban hospital in the United States. Participants: A cohort of 275 patients was randomly selected from 1100 consecutive emergency department admissions for minor injury. Potential participants were identified as having sustained minor injury by the combination of three standard criteria including: presentation to the emergency department for medical care within 24 h of a physical injury, evidence of anatomical injury defined as minor by an injury severity score between 2 and 8 and normal physiology as defined by a triage-Revised Trauma Score of 12. Patients with central nervous system injuries, injury requiring medical care in the past 2 years and/or resulting from domestic violence, and those diagnosed with major depression or psychotic disorders were excluded. Methods: Psychological symptom severity was assessed within 2 weeks of injury, and outcome measures for functional limitations and disability were collected at 3, 6 and 12 months. A quasi-least squares approach was used to examine the relationship between psychological symptom scores at intake and work performance and requirement for bed rest in the year after injury. Results: Adjusting for demographic and injury covariates, depression symptoms at the time of injury predicted (p ≤ 0.05) both poorer work performance and increased number of days in bed due to health in the year after injury. Anxiety symptoms predicted (p ≤ 0.05) bed days at 3, 6, and 12 months and work performance at 3 months. Conclusions: Depression and anxiety soon after minor injury may help predict important markers of long-term recovery. With further research, simple assessment tools for psychological symptoms may be useful to screen for patients who are at higher risk for poor long-term recoveries and who may benefit from targeted interventions.

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International Journal of Nursing Studies
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