Predicting posttraumatic stress symptoms longitudinally in a representative sample of hospitalized injured adolescents

Douglas F. Zatzick, David C. Grossman, Joan Russo, Robert Pynoos, Lucy Berliner, Gregory Jurkovich, Janice A. Sabin, Wayne Katon, Angela Ghesquiere, Elizabeth McCauley, Frederick P. Rivara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Adolescents constitute a high-risk population for traumatic physical injury, yet few longitudinal investigations have assessed the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms over time in representative samples. METHOD: Between July 2002 and August 2003, 108 randomly selected injured adolescent patients ages 12 to 18 and their parents were interviewed at baseline and again 2, 5, and 12 months postinjury. Initially, participants were screened for PTSD symptoms with the PTSD Reaction Index (PTSD-RI) and depressive symptoms with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, as well as preinjury trauma. Random-coefficient regression was used to assess the association between baseline clinical, injury, and demographic characteristics and the development and maintenance of PTSD symptoms longitudinally. RESULTS: Between 19% and 32% of adolescents screened positive for PTSD (i.e., had PTSD-RI scores of ≥38) during the course of the 12 months after the injury. Higher initial adolescent PTSD and depressive symptoms, higher emergency department heart rate, greater objective event severity, and greater parental preinjury trauma were significant independent predictors of higher adolescent PTSD symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: For a substantive minority of hospitalized adolescents, high PTSD symptom levels persist during the 12 months after injury. Clinical characteristics readily identifiable after the acute injury predict the development of PTSD symptoms over time. Real-world clinical trials that test screening and intervention procedures for representative samples of at-risk youths are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1188-1195
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute care
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index
  • Traumatic injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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