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The study sought to quantify psychiatric morbidity among survivors of a major air crash and to identify aetiological factors linked with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Sixty-eight of the 79 survivors (86%) were assessed at a clinical interview within one year of the disaster. The majority also completed the General Health Questionnaire, the Impact of Events Scale (IES) and the Zung Anxiety and Depression Scales.
Fifty-four of the study group (79%) met DSM–III–R criteria for a psychiatric disorder within one year of the disaster, of whom 27 (50%) had PTSD. Those who saw injured or dead people at the scene, or had sustained less severe injuries as measured by their Injury Severity Scores, or were under 35 years old, were significantly more likely to develop PTSD.
High rates of psychiatric morbidity are found in survivors of transportation disasters. Further studies are needed to identify those at most risk and to evaluate the benefits of psychological intervention.