Long-term physical and mental health outcomes of pediatric firearm-injured victims: A prospective cohort study

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The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery


BACKGROUND: Firearms are a leading cause of injury among US youth. There is little research describing outcomes after pediatric firearm injuries, particularly past 1 year. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to assess long-term physical and mental health outcomes among nonfatal firearm versus motor vehicle collision (MVC)-injured victims and versus a standard population. METHODS: We retrospectively identified firearm and MVC-injured pediatric patients seen at one of our four trauma centers (January 2008 to October 2020) and prospectively assessed outcomes using validated patient-reported outcome measures. Eligible patients were English speaking, injured ≥5 months before study start, younger than 18 years at time of injury, and 8 years or older at study start. All firearm patients were included; MVC patients were matched 1:1 with firearm patients for Injury Severity Score (dichotomized ≥15), age range (±1 year), and year of injury. We conducted structured interviews of patients and parents using validated tools (Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System tools, Children's Impact of Event Scale for younger than 18 years and parent proxies). Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System scores are reported on a T score metric (mean [SD], 50 [10]); higher scores indicate more of the measured domain. We used paired t tests, Wilcoxon signed-rank tests, and McNemar's test to compare demographics, clinical characteristics, and outcomes. RESULTS: There were 24 participants in each of the MVC and firearm-injured groups. Compared with MVC-injured patients, firearm-injured patients younger than 18 years had similar scores, and firearm-injured patients 18 years or older had higher anxiety scores (59.4 [8.3] vs. 51.2 [9.4]). Compared with a standard population, patients younger than 18 years had worse global health scores (mean [SD], 43.4 [9.7]), and participants 18 years or older reported increased fatigue (mean [SD], 61.1 [3.3]) and anxiety (mean [SD], 59.4 [8.3]). CONCLUSION: Long-term effects of firearm-injured patients were poorer than matched MVC and the standard population in few domains. Further study in a larger, prospectively recruited cohort is warranted to better characterize physical and mental health outcomes.

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