Assessment and Treatment of PTSD After a Motor Vehicle Collision: Empirical Findings and Clinical Observations

Prof Psychol Res Pr. 2007 Dec;38(6):629-639. doi: 10.1037/0735-7028.38.6.629.


Individuals who experience a serious motor vehicle accident (MVA) are at increased risk for psychological problems, particularly Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this article, we review the literature on PTSD among MVA survivors, with particular attention to available instruments to screen for and assess symptomatology of the disorder. Approaches to the treatment of PTSD in this population are reviewed, separated into interventions designed to prevent PTSD in unselected samples, treatment targeting individuals with Acute Stress Disorder that are designed to prevent subsequent development of PTSD, and therapy for individuals with chronic PTSD. Treatment process issues are discussed, in an effort to integrate empirical findings with clinical observations. The empirical literature suggests several approaches to treatment that have good potential outcomes, although continued work is needed to identify factors that predict treatment response, as well as augment individual-based treatment formats.