Physical Injury, PTSD Symptoms, and Medication Use: Examination in Two Trauma Types


Physical injury is prevalent across many types of trauma experiences and can be associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and physical health effects, including increased medication use. Recent studies suggest that PTSD symptoms may mediate the effects of traumatic injury on health outcomes, but it is unknown whether this finding holds for survivors of different types of traumas. The current study examined cross-sectional relationships between injury, PTSD, and pain and psychiatric medication use in 2 trauma-exposed samples, female survivors of motor vehicle accidents (MVAs; n = 315) and intimate partner violence (IPV; n = 167). Data were obtained from participants at 2 trauma research clinics who underwent a comprehensive assessment of psychopathology following the stressor. Regression with bootstrapping suggested that PTSD symptoms mediate the relationship between injury severity and use of pain medications, R2 = .11, F(2, 452) = 28.37, p < .001, and psychiatric medications, R2 = .06, F(2, 452) = 13.18, p < .001, as hypothesized. Mediation, however, was not moderated by trauma type (ps > .05). Results confirm an association between posttraumatic psychopathology and medication usage and suggest that MVA and IPV survivors alike may benefit from assessment and treatment of emotional distress after physical injury. Copyright © 2014 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

Publication Title

Journal of Traumatic Stress