Center for Injury Research and Prevention

American College of Surgeons' Statement on Pediatric PTSD

May 15, 2018

For 20 years the Child and Adolescent Reactions to Injury and Trauma (CARIT) research program at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention has studied children’s emotional responses after injury, and developed and tested ways to screen for, and prevent, adverse psychosocial consequences of injury. During this time, CIRP research has found that psychological distress, such as symptoms of PTSD, occurs in significant numbers of children injured unintentionally, such as in car crashes, or via interpersonal violence, as well as the parents of these injured children.

Additionally, the CHOP Violence Prevention Initiative is working to address the psychosocial impact of violent injury in children and youth, and conducts research to evaluate secondary prevention of PTSD.

Acknowledging the prevalence of pediatric PTSD post injury and the body of research showing that PTSD symptoms impact and disrupt a child’s full recovery from an injury, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma (COT) released a statement on PTSD earlier this year.

Based on an overview of the relevant research, the ACS recommends implementing a PTSD screening and referral protocol for pediatric trauma patients and integrating this protocol within the electronic health record, implementing hospital-based integrated care violence intervention programs, attending to parents’ psychological needs after a child’s injury. Further research should be completed to more fully understand post-traumatic stress symptoms in children following an injury.  

Healthcare providers can learn more about addressing traumatic stress responses in injured children and their parents, and register for free online continuing education courses, at the Center for Pediatric Traumatic Stress website for providers:  www.HealthCareToolbox.org.