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PTSD Symptoms Worsen Over Six Months for Firearm Injury Survivors

Survivors also have increases in anxiety, depression symptoms, and reported stress at six months versus baseline

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 23, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Firearm injury survivors experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and poor health-related quality of life, which persists for six months, according to a research letter published online May 23 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Sydney C. Timmer-Murillo, Ph.D., from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and colleagues describe the mental health symptoms and health-related quality of life of firearm injury survivors one month after injury (baseline) and six months after injury in a convenience sample of 87 adults from a level 1 trauma center.

The researchers found that patients exhibited symptoms of PTSD at baseline, with a mean score of 27.15, but at six months, symptoms were more severe, with a mean score of 38.66, which was above the recommended diagnostic cutoff of 34 for PTSD after interpersonal trauma. Using the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale-21 interpretation guidelines, anxiety was “mild” and “moderate” at baseline and at six months (mean score, 9.28 and 11.20, respectively). At baseline, depressive symptoms were in the “normal” range (mean score, 7.25) and increased at six months, nearing the cutoff to mild (mean score, 9.56). Stress levels were normal at baseline (mean score, 9.52) and higher at six months (mean score, 12.93), but still within the range of normal. Patients’ health-related quality of life was poor at baseline and remained poor at six months (mean score, 30.48 and 30.45, respectively).

“This preliminary study highlights the needs to better understand and manage the mental health consequences of firearm injury,” the authors write. “Early screening and comprehensive care may improve outcomes in this at-risk population.”

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