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J Trauma. 2007 Mar;62(3):577-83; discussion 583.

Trauma in adolescents causes long-term marked deficits in quality of life: adolescent children do not recover preinjury quality of life or function up to two years postinjury compared to national norms.

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  • 1Division of Trauma, Department of Surgery, University of California, CA, USA.



Injury is a leading cause of death and preventable morbidity in adolescents. Little is known about long-term quality of life (QoL) outcomes in injured adolescents. The objectives of the present report are to describe long-term QoL outcomes and compare posttrauma QoL to national norms for QoL in uninjured adolescents from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).


In all, 401 trauma patients aged 12 to 19 years were enrolled in the study. Enrollment criteria excluded spinal cord injury. QoL after trauma was measured using the Quality of Well-being (QWB) scale, a sensitive and well-validated functional index (range: 0 = death to 1.000 = optimum functioning). Patient outcomes were assessed at discharge, and 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months after discharge. NHIS data were based on 3 survey years and represent a population-based U.S. national random sample of uninjured adolescents.


Major trauma in adolescents was associated with significant and marked deficits in QoL throughout the 24-month follow-up period, compared with NHIS norms for this age group. Compared with NHIS norms for QoL in uninjured adolescents aged 12 to 19 years (N = 81,216,835; QWB mean = 0.876), injured adolescents after major trauma had striking and significant QoL deficits beginning at 3-month follow-up (QWB mean = 0.694, p < 0.0001), that continued throughout the long-term follow-up 24 months after discharge (6-month follow-up QWB mean = 0.726, p < 0.0001; 12-month follow-up QWB mean = 0.747, p < 0.0001; 18-month follow-up QWB mean = 0.758, p < 0.0001; 24-month follow-up QWB mean = 0.766, p < 0.0001). QoL deficits were also strongly associated with age (>or=15 years) and female sex. Other significant risk factors for poor QoL outcomes were perceived threat to life, pedestrian struck mechanism, and Injury Severity Scores >16.


Major trauma in adolescents is associated with significant and marked deficits in long-term QoL outcomes, compared with U.S. norms for healthy adolescents. Early identification and treatment of risk factors for poor long-term QoL outcomes must become an integral component of trauma care in mature trauma care systems.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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