Posttraumatic stress among hospitalized and nonhospitalized survivors of serious car crashes: a population-based study

Psychiatr Serv. 2009 Mar;60(3):402-4. doi: 10.1176/ps.2009.60.3.402.


Objective: This study investigated the prevalence of posttraumatic stress among survivors of serious injury-producing car crashes.

Methods: This population-based prospective cohort study, conducted in New Zealand, recruited hospitalized car occupants (passengers and drivers) as well as nonhospitalized drivers after a crash in which at least one occupant was hospitalized. Fifty-nine hospitalized passengers (62%) and 209 drivers (72%) completed five- and 18-month interviews. The Impact of Event Scale assessed symptoms of posttraumatic stress.

Results: At five months 28% of hospitalized passengers, 24% of hospitalized drivers, and 24% of nonhospitalized drivers reported symptoms consistent with posttraumatic stress disorder. At 18 months, 23% of hospitalized passengers, 11% of hospitalized drivers, and 7% of nonhospitalized drivers reported significant levels of stress.

Conclusions: Strategies to prevent disabling sequelae of crashes must address the needs of hospitalized and nonhospitalized survivors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / psychology*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult