The goal of this study was to ascertain whether or not there are various financial trajectories and, if so, whether or not they are linked to quality-of-life outcomes. Health-related quality-of-life outcomes can be quantified and are affected by financial hardships experienced after an injury. For example, stress and depression are linked to material losses, anxiety about money, and an inability to cope effectively with these problems. Nonetheless, monetary hardship and recovery are both fluid concepts that can undergo shifts over time.

This study is a secondary data analysis of survey data collected from 500 patients with moderate-to-severe non-neurologic injuries at 1, 2, 4, and 12 months post-injury to assess the correlation between financial hardship and Health-related Quality of Life (Short Form-36). Enrollment occurred from January 2009 through December 2011 at a Level 1 trauma hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and follow-up ended in December 2012. Data for Group-Based Trajectory Analysis was available for 474 patients. Patients fell into 1 of 4 financial hardship trajectories: those who were financially secure (8.6%) experienced low hardship over time; those who were financially devastated (51.6%) experienced extreme financial hardship immediately following injury and never recovered; those who were financially frail (33.6%) experienced increasing financial hardship; and those who were financially resilient (6.2%) experienced extreme financial hardship at the beginning of the year but recovered by the end of the year.

At 12 months, all trajectories had lower than average physical component scores on the Short Form-36 compared to norms for the US population, and the Financially Frail and Financially Devastated trajectories also had lower than average mental health scores. The Financially Resilient Path shows how to get back on your feet financially after suffering an injury. More study is needed on the causes and mechanisms of this phenomenon.