Acute stress and subsequent health outcomes: A systematic review

Publication date: Available online 9 June 2018
Source:Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Author(s): Dana Rose Garfin, Rebecca R. Thompson, E. Alison Holman
ObjectiveTo systematically review the relationship between early post-traumatic stress symptoms (<1 month) and subsequent physical and mental health outcomes other than Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).MethodsA systematic search of electronic databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Web of Science) was conducted to identify longitudinal studies examining the link between acute post-traumatic stress and physical and mental health. Inclusion criteria required assessment of acute post-traumatic stress (<1 month post-event) and at least one follow-up assessment of a physical or mental health outcome (not PTSD).Results1,051articles were screened; 22 met inclusion criteria. Fourteen studies examined physical health outcomes and 12 examined non-PTSD mental health outcomes. Early psychological responses to trauma were associated with a variety of short- (<1 year) and long- (≥1 year) term physical- and mental-health outcomes. Physical health outcomes included poor general physical health, increased pain and disability, lower quality of life, and higher risk of all-cause mortality. Significant psychological outcomes included more cumulative psychiatric disorders, depression, and anxiety. Significant psychosocial outcomes included increased family conflict and risk of violent re-injury.ConclusionsMethodologically rigorous longitudinal studies support the utility of measuring acute psychological response to traumatic events as it may be an important marker of preventable trauma-related morbidity and mortality that warrants long-term monitoring and/or early intervention.