Aim: Aim of this study is to investigate short-term (3 and 5 months) psychological consequences of severe motor-vehicle accidents.
Methods: The sample under investigation is composed of two groups: 8 survivors of severe motor-vehicle accidents with spinal cord injuries (SCI) hospitalized in a Spinal Cord Unit, and 6 survivors who did not require hospitalization. All subjects were assessed twice, three and five months after the accident, on a variety of measures including the CAPS and the BDI-SF.
Results: Prevalence of PTSD in the total sample was, 3 months after the accident, 14% with no significant differences between the two groups; some peculiarities in the symptomathological profile emerged as much as subjects with SCI experience avoidance of trauma-related stimuli more frequently. An overall decline in frequency and severity of post-traumatic symptoms between the two assessments was observed in the total sample, though some components (Criterion C symptoms) showed no relevant variations over time. Finally, depressive symptoms, which were characterized by higher severity in the SCI group, showed a significant decline between the two assessments.
Discussion: Our data, although based on a limited sample, might help in tailoring psychological interventions for prevention and treatment of PTSD in survivors of severe motor accidents.