Nurse-Led Psychological Intervention After Physical Traumas: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Laila Skogstad, Erlend Hem, Leiv Sandvik, Oivind Ekeberg


Background: Emergency room nurses were trained to provide a short-term psychological intervention in physically injured patients with Impact of Event Scale (IES) scores > 20. The aims were to study the effects of the psychological intervention relative to usual care (UC).

Methods: In a randomized controlled trial, psychological distress, daily functioning and the personality traits optimism/pessimism were compared with patients who received the UC. The interventions were provided 1 - 3 months after discharge.

Results: The IES scores were significantly reduced in both groups at 3 months (intervention: 41.1 - 28.6, P < 0.001 vs. UC: 35.4 - 26.2, P < 0.001), but not significantly different between groups. Baseline IES score was a significant predictor of IES scores at 3 (beta = 0.4, P < 0.05) and 12 months (beta = 0.3, P < 0.05), whereas overall daily functioning at 3 months predicted IES scores at 12 months (beta = -0.5, P < 0.001). Patients receiving intervention became significantly more optimistic during the year, and had an increase in overall daily functioning from 3 to 12 months (P < 0.001). Patients declining intervention were more pessimistic and had lower daily functioning. Patients who talked with nurses with more training in psychological processing had a larger reduction in IES symptoms at 3 months (beta = -0.3, P = 0.081).

Conclusion: The nurse-led intervention had a significant effect on optimism and overall daily functioning. Nurses may become a low-cost option to perform short-term psychological interventions with physically injured hospitalized patients.

J Clin Med Res. 2015;7(5):339-347


Physically injured patients; Posttraumatic stress; Randomized controlled trial; Short-term psychological intervention

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