The impact of severity of physical injury and perception of life threat in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder in motor vehicle accident victims

Behav Res Ther. 1995 Jun;33(5):529-34. doi: 10.1016/0005-7967(94)00079-y.


For 98 victims of recent (1 to 4 months post-accident) motor vehicle accidents who sought medical attention as a result of the accident, we obtained data on the extent of physical injury using blind ratings with the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS), as well as victims reports of their perceptions of how much danger they perceived at the time of the accident and the degree of life threat (fear of dying) they perceived. AIS scores significantly predicted (P < 0.01) development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (r point biserial = 0.302) and development of post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) (r = 0.311) as did perception of life threat (r point biserial = 0.294 for PTSD and r = 0.229 for PTSS). A multiple regression equation combining AIS and life threat accounted for 12.2% of variance in PTSS scores.

MeSH terms

  • Abbreviated Injury Scale
  • Accidents, Traffic / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Trauma / psychology*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*