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Prediction of posttraumatic stress disorder by immediate reactions to trauma: a prospective study in road traffic accident victims.


Road traffic accidents often cause serious physical and psychological sequelae. Specialists of various medical faculties are involved in the treatment of accident victims. Little is known about the factors which might predict psychiatric disorders, e.g. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after accidents and how psychological problems influence physical treatment. In a prospective study 179 unselected, consecutively admitted road traffic accident victims were assessed a few days after the accident for psychiatric diagnoses, severity of injury and psychopathology. All were inpatients and had to be treated for bone fractures. At 6-months follow-up assessment 152 (85%) of the patients were interviewed again. Of the patients, 18.4% fulfilled the criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (DSM-III-R) within 6 months after the accident. Patients who developed PTSD were injured more severely and showed more symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD a few days after the accident than patients with no psychiatric diagnosis. Patients with PTSD stayed significantly longer in the hospital than the other patients. Multiple regression analysis revealed that the length of hospitalization was due mainly to a diversity of factors such as severity of injury, severity of accident, premorbid personality and psychopathology. Posttraumatic stress disorder is common after road traffic accidents. Patients with PTSD at follow-up can be identified by findings from early assessment. Untreated psychological sequelae such as PTSD cause longer hospitalization and therefore more costs than in non-PTSD patients.


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  • Authors

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    Accidents, Traffic
    Length of Stay
    Predictive Value of Tests
    Prospective Studies
    Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
    Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic

    Pub Type(s)

    Clinical Trial
    Journal Article



    PubMed ID