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Exposure to traumatic stress is associated with increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alterations of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) function. Research linking traumatic stress with HPA function in PTSD has been inconsistent, however, in part due to (a) the inclusion of trauma-exposed individuals without PTSD (TE) in control groups and (b) a failure to consider comorbid major depressive disorder (MDD) and moderating variables. This meta-analysis of 47 studies (123 effect sizes, N=6008 individuals) revealed that daily cortisol output was lower for PTSD (d=-.36, SE=.15, p=.008) and PTSD+MDD (d=-.65, SE=.25, p=.008) groups relative to no trauma controls (NTC); TE and NTC groups did not differ significantly from each other. Afternoon/evening cortisol was lower in TE (d=-.25, SE=.09, p=.007) and PTSD (d=-.27, SE=.12, p=.021) groups and higher in PTSD+MDD groups (d=.49, SE=.24, p=.041) relative to NTC. Post-DST cortisol levels were lower in PTSD (d=-.40, SE=.12, p<.001), PTSD+MDD (d=-.65, SE=.14, p<.001), and TE groups (d=-.53, SE=.14, p<.001) relative to NTC. HPA effect sizes were moderated by age, sex, time since index event, and developmental timing of trauma exposure. These findings suggest that enhanced HPA feedback function may be a marker of trauma-exposure rather than a specific mechanism of vulnerability for PTSD, whereas lower daily cortisol output may be associated with PTSD in particular.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
OBJECTIVE - To investigate levels and correlates of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in mothers and fathers of children and youth with cancer.
METHODS - Mothers (n = 191) and fathers (n = 95), representing 195 families of children and youth with cancer, completed measures of PTSS (Impact of Event Scale-Revised), depression (Beck Depression Inventory-II), and anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory) between 2 and 22 weeks after their child's cancer diagnosis or recurrence of initial diagnosis.
RESULTS - Substantial subgroups of mothers (41%) and fathers (30%) reported levels of PTSS that exceeded cut-offs for elevated symptoms, and these subgroups of parents were characterized by heightened symptoms of depression and anxiety. Fathers of children and youth treated for relapse reported higher rates of elevated PTSS than fathers of children and youth treated for first-time diagnosis, but mothers' rates were similar. Mothers and fathers reported comparable mean levels of PTSS that were strongly positively correlated with symptoms of anxiety and depression. PTSS and other symptoms of distress were negatively related to education level for fathers.
CONCLUSION - These findings provide additional evidence that mothers and fathers experience substantial PTSS near the time of their child or adolescent's cancer diagnosis during the first 6 months of treatment. Results suggest that PTSS may be part of a broader pattern of emotional distress and that a substantial portion of both mothers and fathers of children and youth with cancer may be in need of supportive mental health services within the first 6 months of their child's diagnosis.
BACKGROUND - The primary objective was to prospectively determine the 12-month prevalence of cognitive impairment and psychologic difficulties in moderately versus severely injured adult trauma intensive care unit (TICU) survivors without intracranial hemorrhage.
METHODS - We conducted a prospective cohort study in which patients were followed for 1 year after hospital discharge. A total of 173 patients from the Vanderbilt TICU who had an Injury Severity Score (ISS) of >15 (indicative of moderately severe trauma) were enrolled between July 2006 and June 2007. Patients were screened for delirium on a daily basis in the TICU by study personnel via the confusion assessment method of the ICU, and preexisting cognitive impairment was assessed through a surrogate-based evaluation using the short form of the Informant Questionnaire for Cognitive Decline in the Elderly. Of these patients, 108 were evaluated 1 year after hospital discharge with a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests and depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) instruments. Cognitive impairment was defined as having two neuropsychological test scores 1.5 SD below the mean or one neuropsychological test score 2 SD below the mean.
RESULTS - Fifty-nine patients (55%) demonstrated cognitive impairment at 12-month follow-up, with three of these patients (5.5%) having preexisting impairment. Clinically significant symptoms of depression and PTSD occurred in 40% and 26% of patients, respectively. No significant differences in cognitive impairment (59% vs. 50%), depressive symptoms (35% vs. 44%), and symptoms of PTSD (22% vs. 28%) were identified between moderately (ISS 15-25) and severely (ISS>25) injured TICU survivors, respectively (all p>0.05). In addition, multivariate logistic regression analysis found that moderately injured trauma patients had a similar rate of cognitive impairment when compared with those with severe injury at 12-month follow-up (p=0.25).
CONCLUSION - Long-term cognitive impairment is highly prevalent in TICU survivors without intracranial hemorrhage as are psychologic difficulties. Injury severity, concussion status, and delirium duration were not risk factors for the development of neuropsychological deficits in this cohort. Individuals with moderately severe injuries seem to be as likely as their more severely injured counterparts to experience marked cognitive impairment and psychologic difficulties; thus, screening efforts should focus on this potentially overlooked patient group.
The authors sought to evaluate how well the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine-Clinical Terms (SNOMED-CT) controlled vocabulary represents terms commonly used clinically when documenting posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A list was constructed based on the PTSD criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994), symptom assessment instruments, and publications. Although two teams mapping the terms to SNOMED-CT differed in their approach, the consensus mapping accounted for 91% of the 153 PTSD terms. They found that the words used by clinicians in describing PTSD symptoms are represented in SNOMED-CT. These results can be used to codify mental health text reports for health information technology applications such as automated chart abstraction, algorithms for identifying documentation of symptoms representing PTSD in clinical notes, and clinical decision support.
Copyright © 2010 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
RATIONALE - Studies have shown that reducing sedation of critically ill patients shortens time on the ventilator and in the intensive care unit (ICU). Little is known, however, of how such strategies affect long-term cognitive, psychological, and functional outcomes.
OBJECTIVES - To determine the long-term effects of a wake up and breathe protocol that interrupts and reduces sedative exposure in the ICU.
METHODS - In this a priori planned substudy conducted at one tertiary care hospital during the Awakening and Breathing Controlled Trial, a multicenter randomized controlled trial, we assessed cognitive, psychological, and functional/quality-of-life outcomes 3 and 12 months postdischarge among 180 medical ICU patients randomized to paired daily spontaneous awakening trials with spontaneous breathing trials (SBTs) or to sedation per usual care plus daily SBTs.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS - Cognitive impairment was less common in the intervention group at 3-month follow-up (absolute risk reduction, 20.2%; 95% confidence interval, 1.5-36.1%; P = 0.03) but not at 12-month follow-up (absolute risk reduction, -1.9%; 95% CI, -21.3 to 27.1%; P = 0.89). Composite cognitive scores, alternatively, were similar in the two groups at 3-month and 12-month follow-up (P = 0.80 and 0.61, respectively), as were symptoms of depression (P = 0.59 and 0.82) and posttraumatic stress disorder (P = 0.59 and 0.97). Activities of daily living, functional status, and mental and physical quality of life were similar between groups throughout follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS - In this trial, management of mechanically ventilated medical ICU patients with a wake up and breathe protocol resulted in similar cognitive, psychological, and functional outcomes among patients tested 3 and 12 months post-ICU. The proven benefits of this protocol, including improved 1-year survival, were not offset by adverse long-term outcomes. Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT 00097630).
Existing biological models of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) posit that the amygdala plays a critical role in the development and expression of this disorder. However, increasing data indicate that the amygdalae are not functionally identical, raising the possibility that the 2 amygdalae may make differential contributions to the expression of PTSD. The authors present a unique patient who developed PTSD following a traffic accident that occurred 2 years after she had undergone removal of her left amygdala to treat pharmacologically intractable epilepsy. The authors propose that the right amygdala is preferentially involved in several processes related to the expression of PTSD symptoms, such that the disorder can occur even in the absence of the left amygdala.
INTRODUCTION - Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been identified in a significant portion of intensive care unit (ICU) survivors. We sought to identify factors associated with PTSD symptoms in patients following critical illness requiring mechanical ventilation.
METHODS - Forty-three patients who were mechanically ventilated in the medical and coronary ICUs of a university-based medical center were prospectively followed during their ICU admission for delirium with the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU. Additionally, demographic data were obtained and severity of illness was measured with the APACHE II (Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II) score. Six months after discharge, patients were screened for PTSD symptoms by means of the Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome 10-Questions Inventory (PTSS-10). Multiple linear regression was used to assess the association of potential risk factors with PTSS-10 scores.
RESULTS - At follow-up, six (14%) patients had high levels of PTSD symptoms. On multivariable analysis, women had higher PTSS-10 scores than men by a margin of 7.36 points (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.62 to 13.11; p = 0.02). Also, high levels of PTSD symptoms were less likely to occur in older patients, with symptoms declining after age 50 (p = 0.04). Finally, although causation cannot be assumed, the total dose of lorazepam received during the ICU stay was associated with PTSD symptoms; for every 10-mg increase in cumulative lorazepam dose, PTSS-10 score increased by 0.39 (95% CI 0.17 to 0.61; p = 0.04). No significant relationship was noted between severity of illness and PTSD symptoms or duration of delirium and PTSD symptoms.
CONCLUSION - High levels of PTSD symptoms occurred in 14% of patients six months following critical illness necessitating mechanical ventilation, and these symptoms were most likely to occur in female patients and those receiving high doses of lorazepam. High levels of PTSD symptoms were less likely to occur in older patients.
INTRODUCTION - Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a potentially serious psychiatric disorder that has traditionally been associated with traumatic stressors such as participation in combat, violent assault, and survival of natural disasters. Recently, investigators have reported that the experience of critical illness can also lead to PTSD, although details of the association between critical illness and PTSD remain unclear.
METHODS - We conducted keyword searches of MEDLINE and Psych Info and investigations of secondary references for all articles pertaining to PTSD in medical intensive care unit (ICU) survivors.
RESULTS - From 78 screened papers, 16 studies (representing 15 cohorts) and approximately 920 medical ICU patients met inclusion criteria. A total of 10 investigations used brief PTSD screening tools exclusively as opposed to more comprehensive diagnostic methods. Reported PTSD prevalence rates varied from 5% to 63%, with the three highest prevalence estimates occurring in studies with fewer than 30 patients. Loss to follow-up rates ranged from 10% to 70%, with average loss to follow-up rates exceeding 30%.
CONCLUSION - Exact PTSD prevalence rates cannot be determined due to methodological limitations such as selection bias, loss to follow-up, and the wide use of screening (as opposed to diagnostic) instruments. In general, the high prevalence rates reported in the literature are likely to be overestimates due to the limitations of the investigations conducted to date. Although PTSD may be a serious problem in some survivors of critical illness, data on the whole population are inconclusive. Because the magnitude of the problem posed by PTSD in survivors of critical illness is unknown, there remains a pressing need for larger and more methodologically rigorous investigations of PTSD in ICU survivors.
A pilot study was conducted to investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of behavioral activation (BA) therapy for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Eleven veterans seeking treatment at a Veterans Administration outpatient PTSD clinic were enrolled in the study protocol, consisting of 16-weekly individual sessions of BA. Nine veterans completed the protocol, one participant completed 15 sessions, and one dropped out after one session. Clinician-rated PTSD symptom severity showed significant pre- to posttreatment improvement and was associated with a moderate effect size. A number of participants also were improved on measures of depression and quality of life, but changes did not reach statistical significance. Findings suggest that BA is a well-tolerated, potentially beneficial intervention for veterans with chronic symptoms of PTSD.
OBJECTIVE - Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious anxiety disorder triggered by the experience of trauma. One in 4 individuals exposed to trauma will develop PTSD. Victims of trauma are frequent users of health care, but screening is rarely done and most sequelae remain undetected. Our objectives were 1) to document the prevalence of a trauma history among women seeking routine gynecologic care and 2) to evaluate a 4-item screening instrument for PTSD for triaging women with a trauma history for further evaluation.
METHODS - We conducted a cross-sectional survey of women presenting to the University of North Carolina outpatient gynecology clinic for an annual examination. Written surveys included medical history and health status, trauma history (including type), and PTSD symptoms using the screening instrument. Patients with trauma who agreed to further participation received a structured clinical interview to diagnose PTSD.
RESULTS - Seventy-six percent of patients (N = 292) completed the survey, and 88 (30%) reported a history of 1 or more traumatic event or events. Thirty-two of the 88 completed the psychiatric assessment, and 25 of 32 (78%) met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition criteria for PTSD. Mean age was 34 years, 49% were African American, and 46% were unmarried. Compared with the structured clinical interview, the screening instrument performed with a sensitivity of 72% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.51-0.88) and a specificity of 71% (95% CI 0.29-0.96), corresponding to a positive likelihood ratio of 2.52 (95% CI 0.76-8.34) and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.39 (95% CI 0.18-0.86).
CONCLUSION - Trauma was common in this population. Including a screening instrument for trauma and PTSD on clinic intake surveys has promise for use as a triage tool. Use of such an instrument could meaningfully increase detection of PTSD among women receiving routine preventive care.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE - III