The Center for Trauma Survivorship: Addressing the great unmet need for posttrauma center care

David H. Livingston, Susan La Bagnara, Derrick Sieck, Peter Yonclas, Cathy Cho, Patricia A. Walling, Anne C. Mosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND Returning patients to preinjury status is the goal of a trauma system. Trauma centers (TCs) provide inpatient care, but postdischarge treatment is fragmented with clinic follow-up rates of <30%. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression are common, but few patients ever obtain necessary behavioral health services. We postulated that a multidisciplinary Center for Trauma Survivorship (CTS) providing comprehensive care would meet patient's needs, improve postdischarge compliance, deliver behavioral health, and decrease unplanned emergency department (ED) visits and readmissions. METHODS Focus groups of trauma survivors were conducted to identify issues following TC discharge. Center for Trauma Survivorship eligible patients are aged 18 to 80 years and have intensive care unit stay of >2 days or have a New Injury Severity Score of ≥16. Center for Trauma Survivorship visits were scheduled by a dedicated navigator and included physical and behavioral health care. Patients were screened for PTSD and depression. Patients screening positive were referred for behavioral health services. Patients were provided 24/7 access to the CTS team. Outcomes include compliance with appointments, mental health visits, unplanned ED visits, and readmissions in the year following discharge from the TC. RESULTS Patients universally felt abandoned by the TC after discharge. Over 1 year, 107 patients had 386 CTS visits. Average time for each appointment was >1 hour. Center for Trauma Survivorship "no show"rate was 17%. Eighty-six percent screening positive for PTSD/depression successfully received behavioral health services. Postdischarge ED and hospital admissions were most often for infections or unrelated conditions. Emergency department utilization was significantly lower than a similarly injured group of patients 1 year before the inception of the CTS. CONCLUSION A CTS fills the vast gaps in care following TC discharge leading to improved compliance with appointments and delivery of physical and behavioral health services. Center for Trauma Survivorship also appears to decrease ED visits in the year following discharge. To achieve optimal long-term recovery from injury, trauma care must continue long after patients leave the TC. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Therapeutic, Level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)940-946
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Surgery


  • PTSD
  • Trauma
  • behavioral health
  • outcomes
  • survivor


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