Unpacking the Causes of PTSD in Violently Injured Patients

Zachary J. Coles, Ann Tufariello, Stephanie Bonne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Violence is a public health problem that disproportionately affects urban communities. The root causes of PTSD and effects on quality of life, substance abuse, and mental health are unclear. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of PTSD and its root causes to direct services to be provided in a hospital-based violence intervention program. Methods: Victims of Violence (VOVs) at University Hospital were approached from December 2017 to June 2019. They completed several validated patient–reported outcome surveys, including the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire, the Peritraumatic Dissociative Experiences Questionnaire, Peritraumatic Dissociative Inventory, Positive and Negative Affect Scale, and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test and the Drug Abuse Screening Test. Responses were recorded in Research Electronic Data Capture and were analyzed using Microsoft Excel. Results: Fifty-four individuals completed the surveys; 94% were men, 88% black, and 100% victims of interpersonal violence. 85% screened positive for PTSD. VOVs experienced many traumatic events throughout their life. Reported alcohol and drug abuse were low, with 91% at low risk for alcohol use disorders and 92% at low risk for drug abuse disorders (Figure 1). Positive affect remained high, indicating the possibility of resiliency in this population. Conclusions: PTSD is high in VOVs in urban trauma centers. Understanding the root causes of PTSD can help direct interventions to support individuals with services that meet their individual needs. Simple screening tools can help hospital-based violence intervention programs and trauma social workers identify individual needs and assess risk for mental health and substance abuse disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-47
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


  • Hospital-based violence intervention programs
  • PTSD
  • Violence
  • Violence prevention
  • Violent injury


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