Date of Graduation

Fall 12-15-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


School of Nursing and Health Professions




Population Health Leadership

First Advisor

Francine Serafin-Dickson

Second Advisor

Elena Capella


Beyond the Physical Wounds: A Proactive Approach to Mental Health Recovery After a Traumatic Injury

Background: Every year, millions of Americans incur a life-threatening traumatic event and are admitted to trauma centers to treat their acute physical injuries. While traumatic injury is closely associated with developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), patients are rarely evaluated for PTSD risk or educated about long-term psychological sequelae.

Local Problem: The predictive value of early screening to quantify PTSD risk in trauma patients is well documented in the literature. However, in a 241-bed Level II Trauma acute care hospital, there was no protocol to evaluate the likelihood of PTSD development or provide mitigating intervention as indicated.

Methods: Staff knowledge, patient screening rates, and rates of mental health referrals were evaluated to determine the effectiveness of a PTSD risk screening and intervention protocol. A pre/post survey was used to measure staff knowledge acquisition. PTSD screening and mental health referral rates were assessed using structured observations and tracking trauma registry data.

Interventions: An evidence-based, de novo PTSD risk protocol with three key interventions: a two-hour evidence-based education module for trauma center staff; patient bedside screening using a PTSD risk predictor tool; and a guided, stepped-intervention approach based on risk categories.

Results: Staff knowledge mean scores increased from baseline by 28%. PTSD risk screenings were administered to 95% of eligible patients, and 94% of patients classified as high-risk for PTSD development received a referral for mental health services upon discharge.

Conclusions: A PTSD risk screening protocol provides a straightforward, cost-effective approach to identify PTSD-related morbidity.

Included in

Nursing Commons