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Post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents following road traffic accidents

  • K. A. H. Mirza (a1), B. R. Bhadrinath (a2), Ian M. Goodyer (a1) and Carol Gilmour (a2)

Abstract

Background

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a persistent and disabling psychiatric disorder. There is little systematic research into the psychiatric consequences of road traffic accidents (RTAs) in children and adolescents.

Method

A consecutive sample of 8–16-year-olds attending an accident and emergency department following RTAs were screened for PTSD. Potential cases and their parent(s) were interviewed with semi-structured research instruments about six weeks and six months after the accident.

Results

Fifty-three (45%) of the 119 subjects fell above PTSD cut-off on the Frederick's Reaction Index. Thirty-three (75%) of the 44 cases met DSM–IV criteria for PTSD. In half of these other psychiatric disorders were present, including major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders. Being female, involvement in car accidents and pre-existing depression and anxiety were associated with developing PTSD. Seventeen per cent of the sample continued to be symptomatic six months after the accident.

Conclusions

PTSD is a common consequence of RTAs. Liaison with accident and emergency departments would enhance the early detection and follow-up of children at risk of developing PTSD.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr B. R. Bhadrinath, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Bethel Child and Family Centre, Hotblack Road, Norwich, Norfolk NR2 4HN

References

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Post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents following road traffic accidents

  • K. A. H. Mirza (a1), B. R. Bhadrinath (a2), Ian M. Goodyer (a1) and Carol Gilmour (a2)
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