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Trauma recidivism is pervasive and is associated with mental and social health opportunities

Published:November 04, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.injury.2022.11.002

      Highlights

      • 14% of patients returned with an unrelated trauma event within a mean of 21 months following initial injury.
      • Mental illness was noted in 57% of recidivists, versus 33% of the others, representing the greater risk factor for trauma recidivism.
      • Other predictors of recidivism included recreational drug use and history of ballistic or other assault.

      Abstract

      Introduction

      Recidivism after orthopedic trauma results in greater morbidity and costs. Prior studies explored the effects of social and medical factors affecting the frequency of return to the hospital with new, unrelated injury. Identification of mental, social and other risk factors for trauma recidivism may provide opportunities for mitigation. The purposes of this study are to determine the rates of subsequent, unrelated injury noted among orthopedic trauma patients at a large urban trauma center and to evaluate what patient and injury features are associated with greater rates of trauma recidivism. We hypothesize higher rates of new injuries will be related to ballistic trauma and other forms of assault, alcohol and recreational drug use, unemployment, and unmarried status among our trauma patients.

      Methods

      A series of 954 skeletally mature patients at a level 1 trauma center over a 5 year period were included in the study. All were treated operatively for thoracolumbar, pelvic ring, acetabulum, and/or proximal or shaft femoral fractures from a high energy mechanism. Retrospective review of demographic, injury, medical, and social factors, and subsequent care was performed. Trauma recidivism was defined as returning to the emergency department for treatment of any new injury. A backward stepwise logistic regression statistical analysis was used to identify independent predictors of recidivism.

      Results

      Mean age of all patients was 41.2 years, and 73.2% were male. 136 patients (14.3%) returned with a new injury within a mean of 21 months. These trauma recidivists were more likely to sustain a GSW (22.1% vs 11.4%, p = 0.001). They had higher rates of substance use, including tobacco (57.4% vs 41.8%, p = 0.001) and recreational drugs (50.7% vs 34.4%, p = 0.001), and were less likely to be married (10% vs 25.9%, p<0.001). Mental illness was pervasive, noted in 56.6% of patients with new injury (vs 32.8%, p<0.001). Medicaid insurance was most common in the trauma recidivist population (58.1% vs 35.0%, p = 0.001), and 12.5% were uninsured. Completing high school or more education was protective (93% non-recidivist (vs 79%, p = 0.001). Sixty-nine patients (50.7%) were repeat trauma recidivists within the study period. Independent predictors of new injury included recreational drug use (OR 1.64, p = 0.05) and history of assault due to GSW or other means (OR 1.67, p = 0.05). History of pre-existing mental illness represented the greatest risk factor for trauma recidivism (OR 2.55, p<0.001).

      Discussion

      New injuries resulting in emergency department presentation after prior orthopedic trauma occurred in 14.3% and were associated with history of assault, lower education, Medicaid insurance, tobacco smoking and recreational drug use. Mental illness was the greatest risk factor. Over half of patients with these additional injuries were repeat trauma recidivists, returning for another new injury within less than 2 years. Awareness of risk factors may promote focused education and other interventions to mitigate this burden.

      Level of Evidence

      Level 3 retrospective, prognostic
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