JPS Health Network is teaming up with Baylor University Medical Center researchers studying post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among civilians involved in traumatic accidents and events.
Existing research has shown that exposure to trauma does not always lead to PTSD, suggesting that some people are more susceptible than others. Researchers are now probing that susceptibility, attempting to identify people at high risk for PTSD who might benefit from preventive treatment.
Collaboration with JPS expands the bounds of the new study by ballooning the number of potential study subjects. JPS has Tarrant County’s only Level I Trauma Center.
“When I talk to people nationally and say that JPS is coming on board, people get very excited,” said Baylor’s Dr. Ann Marie Warren, associate investigator of Trauma Research at Baylor University Medical Center and principal investigator on the research. Warren said the study eventually could enroll 1,500 patients. Baylor has enrolled about 330 trauma patients so far. Enrollment of JPS trauma patients can begin this month following approval of the Institutional Review Board.
She hopes eventually to produce a risk-prediction tool that could be used in hospital emergency rooms to identify people likely to develop PTSD.
Dr. Raj Gandhi, trauma medical director at JPS, said that predictors of PTSD, were they reliably identifiable, could provide opportunities for prevention that could be initiated in the emergency room. “I think it would be great if we could reduce the chances of PTSD for our patients,” Gandhi said.
People with PTSD struggle with recurring thoughts or nightmares of the traumatic event to which they were exposed, often feeling as though they are re-living it or experiencing flashbacks. They may feel estranged from others, have difficulty sleeping and concentrating, struggle with impulse control, and be unable to control outbursts of anger. Some studies have tied PTSD to increased risk of suicide.
The National Institutes of Mental Health estimates that 3.5 percent of the U.S. adult population struggles with PTSD in any 12-month period. Estimated incidence rates climbed as high as 4.3 percent after the September 11 attacks in 2001.
“When I saw what happened at the Boston Marathon, my first thought was the psychological implications for the runners and the witnesses,” said Warren.