Level 1 trauma centers receive and treat trauma patients through a myriad of medical approaches. Admission to a trauma center can be prompted by a variety of reasons. Many individuals receive care at a trauma center for a life-threatening injury as a result of an accident, a violent act, or other event. Because of this, psychiatric professionals are available to assist survivors with their emotional needs when they arrive. However, for those who require surgery because of their injuries, there may be a need for continuing psychiatric assessment postoperation.
Erich J. Conrad, MD, of the Department of Psychiatry at Louisiana State University School of Medicine recently led a study that revealed a high rate of psychological stress among surgery patients at a level 1 trauma center. Although some may receive psychiatric care prior to surgery, many do not. Therefore, once they are discharged, their psychological issues may persist and if left untreated, result in negative consequences for them and others.
Conrad’s study involved 25 postsurgical clients. They were evaluated for posttraumatic stress (PTSD), depression, and alcohol dependence. Further, Conrad asked the participants about their level of victimization and perpetration. He found that when he assessed the participants, over half of them had PTSD, almost half had depression, and 20% had alcohol dependence. Conrad also discovered that perpetration, which was reported by 48% of the participants, was almost as prevalent as victimization, reported in 60% of the participants.
The results of this study clearly reveal a high level of psychological symptoms in clients receiving surgery for trauma-related injuries. Despite the symptoms reported by these participants, many may have been reluctant to fully disclose their feelings. This could indicate a potentially higher level of perpetration, victimization, and even psychological distress that might not be accurately represented in these findings. Additionally, the sample size in Conrad’s study was rather small, further limiting the results. “However,” added Conrad, “This study does support and highlights the need of embedding psychiatric consultation services into this type of clinic.”
Conrad, Erich J., MD, et al. (2013). Assessment of psychiatric symptoms at a level I trauma center surgery follow-up clinic: A preliminary report. The American Surgeon 79.5 (2013): 492-4. ProQuest. Web.
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