Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

A dangerous trend

Research from Queen’s University shows major traumatic injury increases risk of mental health disorders, including suicide.

A new study headed by Queen’s University researcher Dr. Chris Evans has revealed people who experience major injuries requiring hospitalization, such as those caused by car crashes and falls, have a much higher risk of being admitted to hospital for mental health disorders. Results showed that this group is at a higher risk of suicide as well.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), and supported by data from the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences Queen’s.

“Major trauma was associated with a 40 per cent increased rate of hospital admission for one or more mental health diagnoses,” says Dr. Evans (Emergency Medicine). “The most common mental health diagnoses were alcohol abuse, other drug abuse disorders, and major depressive disorders.”

According to Dr. Evans, there is a lack of evidence on the link between major injury and later mental health issues. This large study, based on more than 19,000 patients in Ontario, contributes to the literature on this important topic. The majority of participants who had experienced major trauma were male (70.7 per cent), lived in urban areas (82.6 per cent), and had accidental injuries (89 per cent) rather than intentional.

These factors along with low socioeconomic status, location, and surgical treatment for these injuries were associated with higher admissions for mental health issues. Researchers found that children and youth under 18 years of age had the largest increase in admissions for one or more mental health issues after injury. Suicide is also higher in people with major physical injury, with 70 suicides per 100,000 patients per year.

“Patients who suffer major injuries are at significant risk of increased admissions to hospital with mental health diagnoses in the years after their injury and also have high suicide rates during this period,” says Dr. Evans.

The authors urge that mental health supports should be offered to all trauma victims, with special attention to high-risk patients, including children and youth.

Queen’s University researcher Dallas Seitz (Psychiatry) was a co-author on the paper.

For more information visit the CMAJ website.