The effect of depressive symptoms on social support one year following traumatic injury.
Ann M. Warren Ph.D.
Agtarap, S., A. Boals, P. Holtz, K. Roden-Foreman, E. E. Rainey, C. Ruggero and A. M. Warren (2016). “The effect of depressive symptoms on social support one year following traumatic injury.” J Affect Disord 207: 398-405.
BACKGROUND: Depression is a common mental health outcome after traumatic injury, negatively impacting physical outcomes and increasing the cost of care. Research shows that the presence and quality of support is a leading protective factor against depression post-injury; however, research is vague on the directional effects of both factors over the course of recovery. METHODS: 130 patients admitted to a Level I Trauma Center were recruited to a prospective study examining overall outcomes one-year after injury. Effects of social support and depression at baseline and 12-months post-injury were examined using correlational and cross-lagged path model analyses. Additional follow-up analyses were conducted for depression on specific types of social support. RESULTS: Findings replicated previous research suggesting depression and social support were inversely related. Initial depression at time of traumatic injury was predictive of social support 12-months after their injury, but initial social support levels did not significantly predict depression at 12-months. Additionally, initial depression significantly predicted attachment, social integration, reassurance of worth, and guidance 12-months later. LIMITATIONS: Findings of the analyses are limited by lack of experimentation and inability to control for other related variables. CONCLUSIONS: Findings of the present study support the notion that initial depression predicts poorer social support in recovery, in lieu of prevailing theory (i.e., initial support buffers against later depression) in a sample of trauma patients. These findings highlight the need for medical staff to target specific factors during inpatient stay, such as addressing depressive symptoms and preparing family members and caregivers prior to discharge.