Successful treatment and recovery from a traumatic injury includes care for the emotional responses that accompany physical damage. The concept is especially applicable for black men in America as they are disproportionately affected by traumatic injuries.

Traumatic injuries that occur because of intentional means — gun violence and assault — were found to leave more emotional scarring than a car accident, falls, or other forms of traumatic injury.

Many are unaware that injuries are a major public health problem in the United States. Injuries are the leading cause of death, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all deaths among Americans between the ages of one and 44 years.

Survivors of traumatic injuries often face significant physical and mental health challenges, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A new study focused on the mental health effects of trauma on black men and how those effects may vary by the intentionality of the injury.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) explored the emotional responses of urban black men after acute traumatic injury within the context of injury intentionality (e.g., gun violence and assault versus falls and motor vehicle accidents).

“Understanding emotional responses to intentional and unintentional injuries can help inform and improve public health planning and treatment efforts for individuals who experience emotional responses after injury that are concerning or problematic,” explains principal investigator Therese S. Richmond, Ph.D., CRNP, FAAN.

The research appears online and will be published in a future edition of the journal Injury.

This study shows that after an unintentional or intentional injury, urban black men may experience emotional responses including nightmares, avoid places or people that remind them of the injury, feel jumpy, depressed and angry, and worry about their recovery.

Researchers discovered emotional responses to traumatic injuries can differ by the mechanism of the injury and are accentuated among those who were intentionally injured. These individuals were found to experience heightened feelings of fear and distrust of other people’s intentions after their injuries.

Survivors of intentional injuries who experience social withdrawal due to distrust of others may not receive adequate social support or weaken already fragile support, the study found.

“This research particularly emphasizes the need for further investigation of the mental health effects of trauma and how intentional injuries may exacerbate emotional responses in men living in marginalized or disadvantaged communities and who have chronic exposure to violence in their neighborhoods,” says Richmond.

“Intentional injuries among black men in the US are a critical public health problem that can have a significant impact on men’s emotional and mental health.

Future work is needed to develop trauma-informed interventions that address trauma histories and current adversity among intentionally-injured Black men,” said first-author Tammy Jiang, a doctoral student in epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Source: Penn Nursing