New Survey Could Forecast Those at Highest Risk for PTSD after Injury

An innovative new tool could accurately predict which adults are at risk for post-traumatic stress or depression, and could have a significant beneficial impact on the exorbitant costs of mental health care. The eight question survey is designed to be given to adults immediately after an injury that causes them to seek treatment in a hospital setting. Therese S. Richmond, Ph.D., CRNP, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing conducted a study with her colleagues to determine the accuracy of the survey. She said, “Depression and PTSD exert a significant, independent, and persistent effect on general health, work status, somatic symptoms, adjustment to illness, and function after injury.” The researchers point out that the survey can help determine which injured adults, even those who have suffered only a minor injury, are more likely to develop depression or PTSD and will allow for earlier interventions and treatment.

The survey is simple and easy to administer. Clinicians can easily assess everyone who presents at the hospital with an injury to isolate who is at the greatest risk for mental health problems. They will then be able to educate those people about depression and PTSD and make them aware of the signs and symptoms and advise them to follow up with their primary care doctor if they start to experience any symptoms. The survey will allow for earlier diagnosis and treatment for many people who eventually develop depression or PTSD as a result of an injury. The study was highly accurate, as only five percent of those who reported having a negative risk for developing depression actually did experience depressive symptoms. And none of those surveyed who reported negative for PTSD ever developed symptoms. Not everyone who reports positive for increased risk will actually experience symptoms. However, all people who test positive should be informed of the warning signs should they eventually develop either mental health problem.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • zoey


    July 22nd, 2011 at 6:14 AM

    This could be such a huge help for so many people. There are bound to be those who think that this is something that couldn’t happen to them, that they are strong enough to soldier through on their own. But you know that this is not always going to be the case. There are times when we all need help, that we need some guidance. And this could be the very tool that they need to get them help.

  • bobby


    July 22nd, 2011 at 6:17 AM

    its true that some people are more prone to being a lot more stressed than others and especially so when there’s some trauma involved.and identifying such people and giving them more attention seems like a good plan…

  • Hannah.s


    July 22nd, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    Eight questions can predict the susceptibility?I’d love to know these questions.I’d like to know how answering just eight questions can help guage this instead of some test or something.

  • Blake H.

    Blake H.

    July 22nd, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    I used to think that a good portion of those who claimed PTSD were drama queens and frauds who simply wanted to claim disability or compensation. That mindset changed when it actually happened to me after a very nasty accident. I guess I’m just one of the more vulnerable types. Either that or karma was teaching me a lesson.



    July 24th, 2011 at 5:32 AM

    Does anyone ever think that a questionnaire like this could encourage someone to THINK that they have PTSD after an accident? That maybe not giving them this to think about is the better way to go? Maybe not telling someone about this possibility would never even bring it up at all.

  • Ivy Dean

    Ivy Dean

    July 24th, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    It’s great clinicians can find out who is more likely to be stricken with PTSD after an injury. We have to remember that it’s a double-edged sword too.

    On the one hand, they can keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t develop it or treat it early. On the other, employers might discriminate against the patient because they would be a liability.

    Such information needs to be in the right hands.

  • Stewart Matthews

    Stewart Matthews

    July 24th, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    Depression and PTSD are such nasty things. I have seen great athletes taken out and never return to form, never mind myself the weekend warrior. Thinking about it I would love to have the questionnaire to see if it would predict prior to an accident or injury the possibility of the occurrence of PTSD or Depression. Knowing this would allow for me to figure out whether I am just suffering from pain or it is a mental issue causing my barrier to sport reentry.

  • Chloe Broderick

    Chloe Broderick

    July 26th, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    @Ivy Dean: Thankfully that won’t be an issue. America has very firm laws regarding people who have disabilities, and PTSD can fall under that umbrella in some cases as far as I know.

    I believe they also passed a law somewhere to forbid discrimination based on your propensities for whatever. Just because you may develop a condition at some time in the future doesn’t mean they can hold that against you.

  • ryan blackwell

    ryan blackwell

    July 26th, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    Any one of you reading this who knows a friend or family member with depression or PTSD knows full well that it only gets worse if you don’t see a doctor and get it under control.

    I wonder how many people would see it as an attack on them though when a hospital informs them the results show they are at increased risk of a mental problem. Some may not take too kindly to the truth.

  • Benita Cooke

    Benita Cooke

    July 26th, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    @ryan blackwell…Oh, somewhere between most of them and all of them I think would not like being told that. Everyone is naturally defensive of themselves and particularly their mental wellbeing. Saying anything even insinuating that they are at risk of developing depression when they are feeling perfectly fine mentally could upset some.

    Which is crazy because knowing that could really help them spot the signs and subsequently get help fast!

  • Aisha McKinlay

    Aisha McKinlay

    July 29th, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Why is it we’ve known about PTSD and depression for so very long and only just now come up with this survey to find out who is more likely to be struck by it? Some of the best ideas are the simplest.

    I guess as long as we have it now, that’s the main thing. It makes me think about how many could have benefited from this simple questionnaire before now though.

  • Hope Pearson

    Hope Pearson

    July 30th, 2011 at 1:50 AM

    Another good thing about this questionnaire is that it would be easy to implement in hospitals and emergency care clinics all over the country.

    My concern would be that insurance companies could use them for their own purposes as an excuse to raise premiums for individuals who came out positive.

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