Presence and influence of trauma in inpatient psychiatric care

Rachel B. Nowlin, Sarah K. Brown, Jessica R. Ingram, Amanda R. Drake, Johan R. Smith


Background: Previous research indicates traumatic exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occur at a higher rate in people with severe mental illness (SMI) than in the general population, and co-occurring PTSD symptoms can worsen outcomes for patients with SMI.

Objective: This study assessed the presence and influence of PTSD symptoms in individuals with SMI in an inpatient psychiatric setting, and rates of PTSD diagnoses in this population.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of demographic information and behavioral health outcomes, using a representative sample of adult and geriatric inpatient psychiatric patients (N = 4,126).

Results: This study found elevated PTSD symptoms in over 65% of patients, and significant positive correlations between PTSD symptomatology and behavioral and emotional dysfunction. This study also explored differences in patients with PTSD symptoms who did and did not receive a PTSD diagnosis, finding associations for admission severity, race, and gender.

Conclusions: Traumatization and PTSD symptoms were prevalent in psychiatric inpatient settings, and had an impact on behavioral health outcomes. Recommendations include the use of PTSD screening in behavioral healthcare admission processes, and the furtherance of trauma-informed care for inpatient psychiatric patients with SMI, due to the volume of traumatization and PTSD symptoms in the population.

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International Journal of Healthcare  ISSN 2377-7338(Print)  ISSN 2377-7346(Online)

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