By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2010 – Injured servicemembers who receive morphine during trauma care are about half as likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder as those who are not administered the drug, a Navy study has revealed.

The study found that the use of morphine directly after injury during resuscitation and early trauma care was associated with a reduced risk of PTSD, Troy Holbrook, one of the study’s authors, said. The study was conducted by researchers from the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 14.

Researchers studied 696 injured servicemembers using data compiled from the Navy-Marine Corps Combat Trauma Registry Expeditionary Medical Encounter Database, Holbrook said. Among the patients studied, 243 received a diagnosis of PTSD and 453 did not. Of the patients who received a PTSD diagnosis, 61 percent had been administered morphine. Among those without PTSD, 76 percent had received morphine.

“This can be interpreted to mean that patients who receive morphine after serious injury, during acute trauma care and resuscitation, were about half as likely to develop PTSD compared to patients that did not receive morphine,” Holbrook explained.

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