Prospective study of post-traumatic stress disorder in children involved in road traffic accidents

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Abstract

Objective To determine the prevalence of severe psychological trauma-that is, post-traumatic stress disorder-in children involved in everyday road traffic accidents. Design 12 month prospective study. Setting Accident and emergency department, Royal United Hospital Bath. Subjects 119 children aged 5-18 years involved in road traffic accidents and 66 children who sustained sports injuries. Main outcome measure Presence of appreciable psychological distress; fulfilment of diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. Results Post-traumatic stress disorder was found in 41 (34.5%) children involved in road traffic accidents but only two (3.0%) who sustained sports injuries. The presence of post-traumatic stress disorder was not related to the type of accident, age of the child, or the nature of injuries but was significantly associated with sex, previous experience of trauma, and subjective appraisal of threat to rife, None of the children had received any psychological help at the lime of assessment. Conclusions One in three children involved in road traffic accidents was found to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder when they were assessed 6 weeks after their accident The psychological needs of such children after such accidents remain largely unrecognised.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1619-1623
Number of pages5
JournalBMJ
Volume317
Issue number7173
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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