Evaluation of Trauma Center-Based, Technology Enhanced Stepped Care Intervention for Adolescent Traumatic Injury Survivors

Sponsor/Type: NIH/NICHD
Project Period: 09/01/2021 – 08/31/2025


Pediatric traumatic injury (i.e., injury of sudden onset and severity requiring immediate attention) is the leading cause of death and morbidity among US adolescents and are associated with mental health and health risk outcomes. Pediatric traumatic injuries are associated with medical and societal costs of $87 billion and elevates risk for a wide range of health risk consequences that affect quality of life, physical recovery, social functioning, and return to previous activities.

The prevalence of PTSD and depression is high among pediatric traumatic injury patients; however, most  pediatric trauma centers don’t have the resources to implement models of care that address mental health following injury. Current guidelines by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma strongly recommend screening and addressing emotional recovery in traumatic injury patients.

The ACS Committee on Trauma has identified this as a priority and likely will begin to mandate mental health programs in Level I and II pediatric trauma centers nationally. It is therefore critical that policy and practice is guided by the implementation and evaluation of scalable and sustainable models of care.

In 2015 our team launched the Trauma Resilience and Recovery Program (TRRP), a scalable and sustainable, technology-enhanced, multidisciplinary stepped model of care – one of the few in the US - that provides early intervention and direct services to improve access to evidence-based mental health care after traumatic injury for children, adults and families. We have found this model of care to be feasible and acceptable to adolescent patients (ages 12-17) at each level of service.

TRRP includes 3 major steps:

  1. In-hospital education, brief risk reduction session, and tracking patients’ emotional recovery via an automated text-messaging system
  2. Conducting a 30-day screen via telephone to identify patients who are good candidates for psychological treatment
  3. Providing referral to best-practice telehealth-based or in-person assessment and treatment.

We have partnered with three accredited Level I and II pediatric trauma centers and propose a multi-site hybrid 1 effectiveness-implementation trial with 300 adolescent (ages 12-17) traumatic injury patients to:

  1. Assess the extent to which TRRP promotes improvement in quality of life and emotional recovery
  2. Gather preliminary data on the potential for TRRP to be implemented in other Level I trauma centers.

Directly in line with NICHD’s Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Research and Training (PTCIB) Strategic Research and Training agenda, this study will provide valuable data on the efficacy, preliminary effectiveness and potential for implementation of an innovative, cost-effective, sustainable technology-enhanced intervention designed to address the unique needs of adolescent injury patients and mitigate short- and long-term impact of injury on mental health, quality of life, and overall well-being.

For more information contact
Tatiana M. Davidson