Geisinger researchers create new PTSD tool

By Bernie Monegain
11:14 AM

Geisinger Health System researchers have developed a new post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prediction tool they say is simple to administer and appears to outperform other screening methods.

Geisinger is widely recognized for its innovative use of electronic health records and the development and implementation of innovative care models, such as an advanced medical home. The researchers published their PTSD findings online in the August issue of the journal General Hospital Psychiatry.

After collecting information from more than 2,300 adults following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Joseph Boscarino, senior investigator II, Geisinger Health System, and his co-investigators, including Charles Figley of Tulane University, examined the clinical factors that could predict PTSD. These included stressor exposures, psychosocial resources, functional status, depression symptoms, suicidal thoughts, PTSD symptoms and demographics. This was done to identify the best PTSD prediction models.

From these analyses, the team developed a simple 10-item prediction tool, the New York PTSD Risk Score, which included core PTSD symptoms, depression symptoms, healthcare status, sleep disturbance and trauma history. Findings show the tool is highly successful in predicting PTSD following traumatic exposures in different clinical populations, including a sample of chronic pain outpatients and a sample of Level I trauma patients discharged from Geisinger Clinic.

“Similar to the Framingham Score used in cardiology, the goal of this study was to identify risk assessment instruments for PTSD that are useful and effective in clinical practice," said Boscarino. "This new 10-item tool, the NY PTSD Risk Score, has been shown to accurately predict PTSD and this should result in more prompt facilitation of the most appropriate therapies in the future.”

PTSD can result in changes in health status and altered health behaviors such as alcohol abuse, increased cigarette smoking and altered psychological states such as increased anxiety and depression.

"Outside of VA hospitals and clinics, PTSD screening is not routinely done," said Boscarino. "We think that the NY PTSD Risk Score may help change this is the future. We are planning additional research to assess this."