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Early Detection of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Children

McIntosh, Shannon PhD; Mata, Melanie BSN, RN

doi: 10.1097/01.JTN.0000337155.93216.4c

Surviving trauma patients are at an increased risk for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. An estimated 1 million American children develop some form (acute, chronic) of PTSD every year. The purpose of this study was to benchmark detection of PTSD in children at our trauma center against the national average and develop a guideline that would identify children who might need referral for screening prior to discharge. A collaborative effort among the trauma, rehabilitation, neuropsychology, and pediatric personnel resulted in a guideline to address early detection of PTSD in children. After implementation of the guideline, there was a 40% increase in detection of PTSD symptoms in identified children who were screened. We conclude that a systematic identification of PTSD triggers increases the detection rate of PTSD and opportunities for screening and intervention.

Shannon McIntosh, PhD, is a pediatric neuropsychologist for Departments of Psychology and Rehabilitation, Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan, and Melanie Mata, BSN, RN, is Trauma Program Manager, Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan.

Corresponding Author: Melanie Mata, BSN, RN, Hurley Medical Center, Department of Trauma Services, One Hurley Plaza, Flint, MI 48503 (

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.