The role of site and severity of injury as predictors of mental health outcomes following traumatic injury

Katharine Baecher, Maria Kangas, Alan Taylor, Meaghan L. O'Donnell, Richard A. Bryant, Derrick Silove, Alexander C. McFarlane, Darryl Wade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of injury site and severity as predictors of mental health outcomes in the initial 12 months following traumatic injury. Using a multisite, longitudinal study, participants with a traumatic physical injury (N = 1,098) were assessed during hospital admission and followed up at 3 months (N = 932, 86%) and at 12 months (N = 715, 71%). Injury site was measured using the Abbreviated Injury Scale 90, and objective injury severity was measured using the Injury Severity Score. Participants also completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Clinician Administered Post‐traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Scale. A random intercept mixed modelling analysis was conducted to evaluate the effects of site and severity of injury in relation to anxiety, PTSD, and depressive symptoms. Injury severity, as well as head and facial injuries, was predictive of elevated PTSD symptoms, and external injuries were associated with both PTSD and depression severity. In contrast, lower extremity injuries were associated with depressive and anxiety symptoms. The findings suggest that visible injuries are predictive of reduced mental health, particularly PTSD following traumatic injury. This has clinical implications for further advancing the screening for vulnerable injured trauma survivors at risk of chronic psychopathology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-551
Number of pages7
JournalStress and Health
Issue number4
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • depression
  • injury severity
  • injury site
  • mental health
  • PTSD


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