Development and Validation of a Model to Predict Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depression After a Motor Vehicle Collision

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JAMA Psychiatry


Importance: A substantial proportion of the 40 million people in the US who present to emergency departments (EDs) each year after traumatic events develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depressive episode (MDE). Accurately identifying patients at high risk in the ED would facilitate the targeting of preventive interventions.

Objectives: To develop and validate a prediction tool based on ED reports after a motor vehicle collision to predict PTSD or MDE 3 months later.

Design, Setting, and Participants: The Advancing Understanding of Recovery After Trauma (AURORA) study is a longitudinal study that examined adverse posttraumatic neuropsychiatric sequalae among patients who presented to 28 US urban EDs in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic experience. Enrollment began on September 25, 2017. The 1003 patients considered in this diagnostic/prognostic report completed 3-month assessments by January 31, 2020. Each patient received a baseline ED assessment along with follow-up self-report surveys 2 weeks, 8 weeks, and 3 months later. An ensemble machine learning method was used to predict 3-month PTSD or MDE from baseline information. Data analysis was performed from November 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021.

Main Outcomes and Measures: The PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 was used to assess PTSD and the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Depression Short-Form 8b to assess MDE.

Results: A total of 1003 patients (median [interquartile range] age, 34.5 [24-43] years; 715 [weighted 67.9%] female; 100 [weighted 10.7%] Hispanic, 537 [weighted 52.7%] non-Hispanic Black, 324 [weighted 32.2%] non-Hispanic White, and 42 [weighted 4.4%] of non-Hispanic other race or ethnicity were included in this study. A total of 274 patients (weighted 26.6%) met criteria for 3-month PTSD or MDE. An ensemble machine learning model restricted to 30 predictors estimated in a training sample (patients from the Northeast or Midwest) had good prediction accuracy (mean [SE] area under the curve [AUC], 0.815 [0.031]) and calibration (mean [SE] integrated calibration index, 0.040 [0.002]; mean [SE] expected calibration error, 0.039 [0.002]) in an independent test sample (patients from the South). Patients in the top 30% of predicted risk accounted for 65% of all 3-month PTSD or MDE, with a mean (SE) positive predictive value of 58.2% (6.4%) among these patients at high risk. The model had good consistency across regions of the country in terms of both AUC (mean [SE], 0.789 [0.025] using the Northeast as the test sample and 0.809 [0.023] using the Midwest as the test sample) and calibration (mean [SE] integrated calibration index, 0.048 [0.003] using the Northeast as the test sample and 0.024 [0.001] using the Midwest as the test sample; mean [SE] expected calibration error, 0.034 [0.003] using the Northeast as the test sample and 0.025 [0.001] using the Midwest as the test sample). The most important predictors in terms of Shapley Additive Explanations values were symptoms of anxiety sensitivity and depressive disposition, psychological distress in the 30 days before motor vehicle collision, and peritraumatic psychosomatic symptoms.

Conclusions and Relevance: The results of this study suggest that a short set of questions feasible to administer in an ED can predict 3-month PTSD or MDE with good AUC, calibration, and geographic consistency. Patients at high risk can be identified in the ED for targeting if cost-effective preventive interventions are developed.

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ePub ahead of print