Objective: To discuss the successes and challenges associated with the implementation of a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) screening tool in two pediatric emergency departments (ED).
Methods: The STEPP screening tool has been developed previously on an inpatient population of motor vehicle trauma patients. It was applied here to the general ED population at two different pediatric trauma centers. Nurse screeners were trained and a convenience sample of patients with unintentional injuries who met study criteria were screened in the ED. Feedback from nurse screeners was obtained.
Results: The process of implementing a screening tool to identify patients and their families significantly at risk for PTSD symptomatology presented some barriers, but overall acceptability of the process was high for both the emergency department staff and the patient. Recommendations for others considering implementation of screening programs in the ED are offered.
Conclusions: Future research using screening protocols in the ED should, in their design, attempt to capitalize on the successes identified in the current protocol and circumvent barriers also encountered.
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