Posttraumatic stress disorder and emotional problems in children following motor vehicle accidents: an extended case series

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2000 Jun;34(3):446-52. doi: 10.1080/j.1440-1614.2000.00753.x.


Objective: The prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and general psychopathology in children following motor vehicle accidents (MVA) was investigated.

Method: Twenty-six subjects aged 8-13 years presenting to an emergency department following an MVA were assessed 3 months after the accident using a standard clinical psychiatric assessment, a structured research interview and self- and parent-report questionnaires.

Results: A higher prevalence of psychopathology was seen in the sample compared with community controls. Self-report of PTSD symptoms revealed 22% subjects in the moderate or severe PTSD range and 35% of mild severity. There was significant concordance between self-report PTSD scores and a clinical diagnosis of PTSD. Perception of threat and the internalising subscale on the Child Behaviour Checklist were significantly correlated with PTSD scores.

Conclusions: PTSD and other symptoms of emotional distress are common following MVAs. The clinical and public health implications are discussed, and areas for further research highlighted.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mood Disorders / psychology*
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires