Seven-Year Follow-up of Child Survivors of a Bus-Train Collision

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Abstract

Objective

To assess the long-term effects of a traumatic bus-train collision and to examine the effect of levels of exposure and immediate reactions on long-term adjustment.

Method

Seven years after the accident, 389 subjects, all doing compulsory army service, filled out self-report questionnaires assessing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychiatric symptomatology, and military functioning. In addition, subjects were questioned about their immediate reactions to the traumatic event.

Results

The most highly exposed subjects reported the highest levels of somatization, depression, phobic anxiety, and psychoticism and more PTSD symptoms. Acute stress symptoms and manifestations of fear immediately after the accident were strongly related to long-term maladjustment.

Conclusions

The results suggest that the investigation and assessment of long-term adjustment after traumatic events should take into account both contextual factors, such as the level of exposure to the event, and personal factors, such as the victims' immediate reactions. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 1996, 35(3):365–373.

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