Traumatic injury is not only physically devastating, but also psychologically isolating, potentially leading to poor quality of life, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Perceived social support (PSS) is associated with better outcomes in some populations. What is not known is if changes in PSS influence long-term outcomes following nonneurologic injury. We hypothesized that a single drop in PSS during recovery would be associated with worse quality of life.
This is a post hoc analysis of a prospectively collected database that included patients 18 years or older admitted to a Level I trauma center with Injury Severity Score (ISS) of 10 or higher, and no traumatic brain or spinal cord injury. Demographic and injury data were collected at the initial hospital admission. Screening for depression, PTSD, and Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 Mental Composite Score (MCS) were obtained at the initial hospitalization, 1, 2, 4, and 12 months postinjury. The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) was obtained at similar time points. Patients with high MSPSS (>5) at baseline were included and grouped by those that ever reported a score ≤5 (DROP), and those that remained high (STABLE). Outcomes were determined at 4 and 12 months.
Four hundred eleven patients were included with 96 meeting DROP criteria at 4 months, and 97 at 1 years. There were no differences in sex, race, or injury mechanism. The DROP patients were more likely to be single (p = 0.012 at 4 months, p = 0.0006 at 1 year) and unemployed (p = 0.016 at 4 months, and p = 0.026 at 1 year) compared with STABLE patients. At 4 months and 1 year, DROP patients were more likely to have PTSD, depression, and a lower MCS (p = 0.0006, p < 0.0001).
Patients who have a drop in PSS during the first year of recovery have significantly higher odds of poor psychological outcomes. Identifying these socially frail patients provides an opportunity for intervention to positively influence an otherwise poor quality of life.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Therapeutic, Prognostic and Epidemiological, Level III.