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Psychopathological responses of physically injured persons

Author(s): Lešić Aleksandar | Opalić Petar D.

Journal: Srpski Arhiv za Celokupno Lekarstvo
ISSN 0370-8179

Volume: 131;
Issue: 7-8;
Start page: 306;
Date: 2003;
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Keywords: posttraumatic stress disorder | wartime injures | orthopedy

The idea to monitor and research psychopathological responses of physically injured persons in a more systematic manner has come from our observation of huge differences in patient behavior, whose psychological responses were noticeably changed and often inappropriate. The behavior aberrations were all the more striking because we treated wartime injuries in addition to peacetime ones. Our sample had 175 patient subjects, of both sexes different ages, marital status and professions. A group of 70 patients treated in the Institute for Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology were divided into two subgroups. The first experimental subgroup (E1) consisted of 26 (37.1%) patients physically injured in combat. The second subgroup (E2) had 44 (62.9%) patients physically injured in peacetime circumstances (car accidents, work accidents, etc). The physical injuries encompassed injuries to spinal column and extremities. The control (K) consisted of 105 subjects without physical injuries. The clinical picture and psychological reactions of the patients were examined by means of 4 instruments - PTSD-10 scale or posttraumatic symptoms scale [1 ], Family Homogeneity Index /FHI with 19 variables, applied to measure the relation between the family system homogeneity and accident effects [2], Short Eysenck's Personality Inventory applied to investigate neuroticism and extroversion and introversion traits [3], Late Effects of Accidental Injury Questionnaire [4]. Our observations of psychological responses of patients in our ward (insomnia, sedatives intake) were mostly confirmed by tests conducted with the above instruments. In the group of the wartime injured (E1), as well as in the control (K), Eysenck's scale proved a significantly higher degree of neuroticism in comparison to the peacetime injured. Such results indicated that the wartime injured would most probably develop the picture of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Such a conclusion was related not only to the seriousness of injuries but also to the circumstances of their occurrence. The proneness to develop PTSD symptoms was not in correlation with the preparedness for accident, it being much poorer in peacetime injuries, as opposed to wartime patients, who had been prepared to the possibility of injury occurrence. The highest value of family homogeneity (FHI) was established in the wartime injured, which led us to conclude that the injury contributed to the cohesion of the family from which the patient came. By extracting some questions related to psychopathological entities such as insomnia, depression, somatization, anxiety, and cognitive disorders, the following results were obtained. Depression was the most frequent in both groups of injuries. Anxiety was also present in the control group; and insomnia and somatization, that is, conversion symptoms, were present in both groups of the injured. By examining narrower psychological characteristics of the wartime injured revealed dissociation problems derangement to be the most frequent. Then follow the symptoms of depression which occur significantly more frequently in the wartime injured in comparison to the peacetime injured. The phenomenological symptoms of derangement and depression proved to be reliable parameters of physical trauma. It is also significant that the three characteristics showed correlation to psychopathological responses: severity of surgery, paralysis and acute injury.
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