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Management of Post-traumatic Stress - Module A1: Acute Stress Reaction (2-4 Days After Trauma) Algorithm


This interactive algorithm on acute stress reaction (ASR) is derived from the evidence-based clinical practice guideline Management of Post Traumatic Stress, developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense.

This algorithm addresses the following topics:

  • Trauma exposure
  • Screen for ASR
  • Dangerousness to self or others
  • Obtain assessment of medical and functional status based on general appearance and screening instruments
  • Assess pre-existing psychiatric and medical conditions
  • Risk factors for developing ASR/post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Ensure that basic physical needs are met
  • Acute symptom management
  • Psychological debriefing
  • Education and normalization/expectancy of recovery
  • Facilitate social and spiritual support
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Reassessment
  • Referral and consultation with mental health
  • Monitor and followup 
Links to the Tool:
This tool is available at: (If you don't have the software to open this PDF, download free Adobe Acrobat Reader® software External Web Site Policy.)


Department of Defense; Department of Veterans Affairs; Veterans Health Administration

Funding Sources

Department of Defense; Department of Veterans Affairs; Veterans Health Administration

QualityTool Topic


Links to National Guideline Clearinghouse or National Quality Measures Clearinghouse:

This tool is derived from the following guideline in the National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC): VA/DoD clinical practice guideline for the management of post-traumatic stress:


  • Release Date: 12/2003
  • Original Summary: 03/2005
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Last updated: November 14, 2012.