Emergency room vital signs and PTSD in a treatment seeking sample of motor vehicle accident survivors



Seeking to replicate earlier reports by Shalev et al. (1998) and R. A. Bryant. A. G. Harvey. R. M. Guthrie, and M. L. Moulds (2000) that elevated heart rate (HR) shortly after a trauma was predictive of later posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), we examined vital sign data on 74 treatment-seeking motor vehicle accident (MVA) survivors, taken in the Emergency Department (ED) following their MVAs. Contrary to expectations, we found that those with elevated HRs in the ED were significantly less likely to meet criteria for PTSD 13 months post-MVA and that those with elevated HRs had lower levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms. Likewise, those with current PTSD had lower ED values of HR and DBP than did those who did not currently meet criteria for PTSD.