Violence and injury risk behaviors, alcohol and drug use problems, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressive symptoms occur frequently among adolescents presenting to acute care medical settings after traumatic physical injury.
To test the effectiveness of a stepped collaborative care intervention targeting this constellation of risk behaviors and symptoms in randomly sampled hospitalized adolescents with and without traumatic brain injury.
Design, Setting, and Participants
A pragmatic randomized clinical trial was conducted at a single US level I trauma center. Participants included 120 adolescents aged 12 to 18 years randomized to intervention (n = 59) and control (n = 61) conditions.
Stepped collaborative care intervention included motivational interviewing elements targeting risk behaviors and substance use as well as medication and cognitive behavioral therapy elements targeting PTSD and depressive symptoms.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Adolescents were assessed at baseline before randomization and 2, 5, and 12 months after injury hospitalization. Standardized instruments were used to assess violence risk behaviors, alcohol and drug use, and PTSD and depressive symptoms.
The investigation attained more than 95% adolescent follow-up at each assessment point. At baseline, approximately one-third of the participants endorsed the violence risk behavior of carrying a weapon. Regression analyses demonstrated that intervention patients experienced significant reductions in weapon carrying compared with controls during the year after injury (group × time effect, F3,344 = 3.0; P = .03). At 12 months after the injury, 4 (7.3%) intervention patients vs 13 (21.3%) control patients reported currently carrying a weapon (relative risk, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.11-0.90). The intervention was equally effective in reducing the risk of weapon carrying among injured adolescents with and without traumatic brain injury. Other treatment targets, including alcohol and drug use problems and high levels of PTSD and depressive symptoms, occurred less frequently in the cohort relative to weapon carrying and were not significantly affected by the intervention.
Conclusions and Relevance
Collaborative care intervention reduced the risk of adolescent weapon carrying during the year after the injury hospitalization. Future investigation should replicate this preliminary observation. If the finding is replicated, orchestrated investigative and policy efforts could systematically implement and evaluate screening and intervention procedures targeting youth violence prevention at US trauma centers.
clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00619255