Aitken ME, Tilford JM, Barrett KW, Parker JG, Simpson P, Landgraf J, Robbins, JM
OBJECTIVE: Injury is the major cause of death in children ages 1 to 19 in the United States and is a leading cause of morbidity. Few studies have described the impact of injuries on the health status of affected children over time or used newer, child-specific measures in this population. The objective of this study was to describe the health status of children in the 6 months after admission for injury using child-specific health status measures. METHODS: Injured children who were ages 3 to 18 years and admitted to an academic children’s hospital were evaluated at discharge and at 1 and 6 months after discharge with a battery of outcome measures. The Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ) measured health status. The scores on the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) or a pediatric version of the FIM tracked physical function. RESULTS: A total of 195 children were enrolled. Boys outnumbered girls (67% vs 33%). Injury mechanisms and severity scores were typical of pediatric injury populations reported in other studies. Most (90%) children had at least 1 area of functional limitation by FIM at discharge, and 57% had some impairment at 1 month. By 6 months, 28% reported some limitation. At discharge, CHQ summary scores for the injury group were markedly depressed compared with normative populations. Differences in both physical health and psychosocial health summary scores between the injured and normal children persisted through 6 months of follow-up. Scores on 11 of 12 subscales were significantly below the normal population at discharge. This was particularly evident for bodily pain (injury group mean 49.1 vs normative mean 81.7) and parental impact-emotional (43.9 vs 80.3), and physical functioning (50.9 vs 96.1). Significant differences persisted in all subscales at 1 month and in 6 subscales at 6 months. CONCLUSIONS: The CHQ provided useful information about the impact of injuries on children and their families over time. Significantly reduced scores in several domains of the CHQ highlight problem areas for injury patients, several of which persist through 6 months of follow-up. Low scores in areas of bodily pain and parental emotional burden suggest that improved management of these problems is required. Additional study of risk factors for persistent problems after injury may suggest ways to improve the functional outcomes of injured children and reduce the impact on their families.