Risk factors for the development of medical stress syndrome following surgical intervention

Amichai Ben-Ari, Fortu Benarroch, Yaron Sela, Daniella Margalit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Pediatric surgical procedures involve traumatic stress that may cause psychological distress, leading to decreased adherence to continued surgical follow-up and delayed physical recovery. Risk factors for pediatric medical trauma, however, have not been studied enough. We aim to define the risk factors detectable during hospitalization in pediatric surgery and characterize children at risk of developing PTSD, in order to focus preventive interventions on these children. Methods: The participants in this prospective study were parents of 235 children aged 1–13 years hospitalized in a pediatric surgical ward, who form a representative sample of patients of this age in the ward. They completed questionnaires measuring symptoms of psychological distress, 3–5 months after discharge. Results: Higher parental stress, parental concerns regarding family social support, and parental concerns regarding sibling problems had a significant positive correlation with the children's emotional distress measured 3–5 months after hospitalization. Among children aged 1–5 years, emergency (as opposed to elective) operation and a higher number of invasive procedures were also positively correlated with the children's PTSS. Conclusions: There is a need to develop measurements for identifying children at high risk for developing posttraumatic stress following surgical intervention; guidelines for developing such a screening instrument are outlined. Type of study: Prognosis study (level of evidence – 1).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1685-1690
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • PTSD
  • PTSS pediatric surgery
  • Risk factors
  • Screening


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