Morphine and PTSD Risk in Injured Combat Veterans

Peter Roy-Byrne, MD


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In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Early use of morphine seems to protect against the later development of the disorder.


An improved understanding of the pathophysiology of post-traumatic stress disorder has prompted researchers to explore the use of medication (e.g., beta blockers) for the secondary prevention of PTSD in traumatized and injured individuals.

These investigators used administrative data to examine whether morphine given during resuscitation or trauma care to injured U.S. military personnel affects the subsequent development of PTSD. Medical encounter forms and clinical records concerning 696 injured soldiers without serious traumatic brain injury were linked with assessments for PTSD made at military or private treatment facilities. These assessments occurred from 1 to 24 months after the injury; 243 soldiers received new PTSD diagnoses.

After controlling for injury severity, amputation, mild traumatic brain injury, and Glasgow Coma Scale score, the researchers found that receipt of morphine protected against the development of PTSD. Depending on the model used, odds ratios ranged from 0.49 to 0.67. The effects were not dependent on morphine dose.


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