Studies of ill and injured children and their parents show that the occurrence of traumatic stress reactions is more closely related to the person’s subjective experience of the event rather than its objective medical severity.

mom and daughter_hospital_worried_stress

Research studies suggest a range of risk factors for long-lasting traumatic stress reactions, including: pre-existing vulnerabilities; prior behavioral or emotional concerns; traumatic aspects of the medical event; and the child’s or family’s early reactions to it.

TAKE-HOME MESSAGE FROM THE RESEARCH DATA:

Objective indicators of illness or injury severity do not predict who will go on to have lasting traumatic stress reactions. This means that it is not only the most ill or the most severely injured child who may need extra attention.

Risk Factors for Persistent Traumatic Stress Reactions

Ill or Injured Children who:

  • have had more severe early traumatic stress symptoms
  • have experienced more severe levels of pain
  • have been exposed to scary sights and sounds in the hospital
  • have been separated from parents or caregivers during / after trauma
  • have a history of previous traumatic experiences
  • have a history of behavioral or emotional problems
  • lack peer support

Parents who:

  • have had more severe early traumatic stress symptoms
  • have a history of previous traumatic experiences
  • have a history of emotional or mental health problems
  • are experiencing concurrent life stressors or disruption
  • lack familial or social support