Acute Traumatic Stress Screening Can Identify Patients and Their Partners at Risk for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms After a Cardiac Arrest: A Multicenter Prospective Cohort Study

Sophia Armand, Mette K Wagner, Brice Ozenne, Jeanine Verbunt, Simone J S Sep, Selina K Berg, Gitte M Knudsen, Dea S Stenbæk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is prevalent in patients who have had a cardiac arrest and their partners. Accordingly, acute traumatic stress screening is recommended, but its association with later PTSD symptoms has never been addressed in postresuscitation settings.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine whether acute traumatic stress is associated with PTSD symptoms in patients who have had a cardiac arrest and their partners.

METHODS: This multicenter longitudinal study of 141 patients and 97 partners measures acute traumatic stress at 3 weeks and PTSD symptoms at 3 months and 1 year after resuscitation, using the Impact of Event Scale. Linear regression models were used to evaluate the association between severity of acute traumatic stress and PTSD symptoms and post hoc to explore effects of group (patients/partners), age, and sex on acute traumatic stress severity. We categorized Impact of Event Scale scores higher than 26 at 3 months and 1 year as clinical severe PTSD symptoms.

RESULTS: Higher acute traumatic stress severity is significantly positively associated with higher PTSD symptom severity at 3 months (patients and partners: P < .001) and 1 year (patients and partners: P < .001) postresuscitation, with the strongest association for women compared with men (P = .03). Acute traumatic stress was higher in women compared with men across groups (P = .02). Clinical severe PTSD symptoms were present in 26% to 28% of patients and 45% to 48% of partners.

CONCLUSION: Experiencing a cardiac arrest may elicit clinical severe PTSD symptoms in patients, but particularly in their partners. Screening patients and partners for acute traumatic stress postresuscitation is warranted to identify those at increased risk of long-term PTSD symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-401
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Nursing
Issue number4
Early online date16 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • caregivers
  • family
  • heart arrest
  • posttraumatic stress disorders
  • resuscitation
  • PTSD

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