"Until now, health care providers did not have a simple way to tell, early on, who could be at risk of PTSD after a child injury," said Flaura K. Winston, M.D., Ph.D., study co-author and director of TraumaLink at Children's Hospital. "We hope that acute care physicians can use this screening tool to help determine who should be referred for psychological evaluation and intervention so that families can avoid PTSD."
PTSD is a group of symptoms and reactions that occurs following a traumatic event that persist for a long time (at least one month) and impair an individual's everyday functioning. Symptoms include re-experiencing the trauma (unwanted and upsetting thoughts or memories), avoiding reminders of the trauma, and hyperarousal (jumpiness).
Through their ongoing research, Dr. Winston and her colleagues found that severity of injury is not necessarily a predictor of PTSD. Instead, a combination of event-related factors, early physiological reactions such as heart rate, and early psychological responses serves to predict future development of PTSD.
STEPP was developed in a population of children who had traffic-related injuries and their parents. The STEPP method includes four yes/no questions asked of the parent, four yes/no questions asked of the child, and four items easily obtained from medical records.
To create STEPP, researchers had 171 families complete a 50-question risk factor survey at the ini
Contact: Suzanne Hill
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia