Injury-specific predictors of posttraumatic stress disorder

Volume 40, Issue 9, Pages 1004-1010 (September 2009)



Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an important source of morbidity in military personnel, but its relationship with characteristics of battle injury has not been well defined. The aim of this study was to characterise the relationship between injury-related factors and PTSD among a population of battle injuries. 

Patients and methods

A total of 831 American military personnel injured during combat between September 2004 and February 2005 composed the study population. Patients were followed through November 2006 for diagnosis of PTSD (ICD-9 309.81) or any mental health outcome (ICD-9 290-319). 


During the follow-up period, 31.3% of patients received any type of mental health diagnosis and 17.0% received a PTSD diagnosis. Compared with minor injuries those with moderate (odds ratio [OR], 2.37; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.61–3.48), serious (OR, 4.07; 95% CI, 2.55–6.50), and severe (OR, 5.22; 95% CI, 2.74–9.96) injuries were at greater risk of being diagnosed with any mental health outcome. Similar results were found for serious (OR, 3.03; 95% CI, 1.81–5.08) and severe (OR, 3.21; 95% CI, 1.62–6.33) injuries with PTSD diagnosis. Those with gunshot wounds were at greater risk of any mental health diagnosis, but not PTSD, in comparison with other mechanisms of injury (OR 2.07; 95% CI, 1.35, 3.19). Diastolic blood pressure measured postinjury was associated with any mental health outcome, and the effect was modified by injury severity. 


Injury severity was a significant predictor of any mental health diagnosis and PTSD diagnosis. Gunshot wounds and diastolic blood pressure were significant predictors of any mental health diagnosis, but not PTSD. Further studies are needed to replicate these results and elucidate potential mechanisms for these associations.


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