ASD, PTSD, screening, primary care


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to equip nurse practitioners (NPs) with resources and tools that will help with the early recognition and treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) in patients following a traumatic accident.

Background: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019), trauma, or unintentional injury, is the leading cause of death for individuals under the age of 45 and the third leading cause of death for all ages of people in the United States. Patients involved in traumatic accidents often develop adverse psychological sequelae such as PTSD and ASD. Unfortunately, PTSD and ASD can also cause depression, decreased physical functionality, increased risk of suicide, increased risk of rehospitalization, and reduced quality of life (Paredes Molina et al., 2018). As a result, detecting and treating ASD and PTSD in post-trauma patients is crucial.

Most subsequent care after a trauma is provided in an outpatient setting, often by NPs. As patients with serious injuries and their caregivers noted a need for increased screening, recognition, and treatment for psychological problems when transitioning from inpatient to outpatient settings, this paper provides NPs with tools to do so.

Methods: Initial searches included the databases MEDLINE and CINAHL. Search terms included PTSD, ASD, trauma, screening, accident, depression, rehospitalization, psychological outcomes, and suicide. Inclusion criteria included articles published in English since 2008. Articles that focused on pediatric populations and psychological problems following a traumatic brain injury were excluded. UpToDate, the DSM-V, and Porth's Pathophysiology: Concepts of Altered Health States were also referenced to provide NPs with more robust information and treatment guidelines.

Outcomes Achieved: This paper assists NPs identifying PTSD and ASD in the primary care setting by providing a case study for reference. Further, it offers both screening tools and a review of the DSM-V diagnostic criteria used to detect PTSD and ASD following a traumatic accident. Nonpharmacological and pharmacological treatment options are outlined as well as guidelines for when to refer. Lastly, NPs are directed to resources and information that they can provide patients during their treatment.

Conclusions: Traumatic events are common and can unfortunately lead to patients’ subsequent mental and physical ailments. Thus, it is imperative that NP’s identify and begin to treat ASD and PTSD immediately in an attempt to avoid negative outcomes. As NP’s recognize ASD and PTSD through appropriate use of screening tools, manage the diseases with pharmacological options and therapy, and provide patients with education and resources, patients who have suffered through a trauma will have better physical and psychological outcomes and reduce the burden on the healthcare system.

Document Type

Master's Project

Publication Date








University Standing at Time of Publication

Graduate Student

Included in

Nursing Commons