Long-term social dysfunction after trauma: What is the prevalence, risk factors, and associated outcomes?

Juan P. Herrera-Escobar, Rachel Rivero, Michel Apoj, Alexandra Geada, Matthew Villanyi, D. Blake, Deepika Nehra, George Velmahos, Haytham M.A. Kaafarani, Ali Salim, Adil H. Haider, George Kasotakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Social functioning—the ability to participate in organized or informal family, friend, or peer groups and communal activities—is intertwined with physical and emotional health. Although trauma can have a lasting effect on both the physical and emotional well-being of patients, little is known about the long-term impact of injury on social functioning. We sought to determine the prevalence of, risk factors for, and outcomes associated with long-term social dysfunction after trauma. Methods: Adults with moderate-to-severe injuries managed at three Level I trauma centers were contacted at 6 to 12 months after injury to inquire about social dysfunction. Demographics, socioeconomic parameters, and injury-related and hospital course information were also obtained. A stepwise backward logistic regression model was fitted to determine independent risk factors of social dysfunction, and multiple logistic regression models were used to determine associations between social dysfunction and post-traumatic stress disorder, functional limitations, and return to work. Results: Of the 805 screened patients, 45.2% reported social dysfunction. Patients with social dysfunction were more likely to be African American, be Medicaid beneficiaries, be of lower education, require mechanical ventilation, be discharged less often to home, have a lower mean age and had longer hospital stays. In multivariable analysis, low education, longer hospital stay, past psychiatric illness, and African-American race independently increased the risk for social dysfunction. Furthermore, patients with social dysfunction were more likely to screen positive for post-traumatic stress disorder (odds ratio: 16.25 [95% confidence interval: 9.49–27.85]), be experiencing functional limitations (odds ratio: 2.80 [95% confidence interval: 1.76-4.44]), and to not have returned to work (odds ratio: 5.65 [95% confidence interval: 3.92–8.14]). Conclusion: Lower educational attainment, long hospital stay, past pyschiatric illness, and African-American race appear to predispose to social dysfunction after trauma, which in turn is associated with a positive post-traumatic stress disorder screen, functional limitations, and delayed return to work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-397
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


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