Friday, 8 April 2016

SPHPM study fills the research gap on major trauma survivor’s long-term recovery

Professor Belinda Gabbe, Head of Pre-hospital, Emergency and Trauma (PET) Research Unit at SPHPM, and her colleagues have had their research on outcomes for trauma survivors published as the feature article in the Annals of Surgery.

The population-based, longitudinal study describes the long-term return to work and function of major trauma patients treated in the Victorian trauma system.

The Victorian State Trauma Registry (VSTR) collects data about all major trauma patients in Victoria and survivors are followed up at six, 12 and 24 months after injury to collect data about their level of function, health-related quality of life, and return to work.

The study fills a gap in the literature on longitudinal studies of injured patients, and found that in a population-based study of over 8000 major trauma patients, fewer than 23 per cent had returned to their preinjury level of function, and 30% of those working or studying previously had not returned to work or study, within two years of injury. Recovery trajectories differed by patient characteristics, providing valuable information about who recovers and when.

The study findings are important for improving the understanding of the burden of major trauma, identifying high priority groups for interventions to improve outcomes, and providing information about likely prognosis and demand for services.

“The findings clearly highlight the need for longer follow-up of patients to fully quantify the burden of major trauma, and to further inform prognostication and service planning. Ensuring major trauma patients receive their care at specialist trauma centres, and further investment in rehabilitative and disability services, should enable improved outcomes for patients,” Professor Belinda Gabbe said.

The paper was accompanied with an editorial by Dr Avery Nathens, Director of the American College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Improvement Program, who has said the findings of the study are “critically important” as they add “tremendous value” to the field of post-trauma care and eventually to the lives of trauma survivors.

“Dr Gabbe’s work in this issue of Annals of Surgery is remarkable in two respects. First, it establishes on a large scale functional outcomes and return to work among an unselected population of trauma survivors cared for in trauma centres. The second respect by which this work is remarkable is that Dr Gabbe has developed a model for standardized, long-term follow-up of patients across multiple centres with limited loss to follow-up,” Dr Nathens said.

“Measurement beyond discharge is not easy, but adds tremendous value to the 87 per cent of patients who survive their injuries.”

This is now Belinda Gabbe’s second feature article with an editorial in Annals of Surgery which is glowing recognition of the high calibre of research from the Pre-hospital, Emergency and Trauma Research Unit at SPHPM.

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