Capacity of Screening Questionnaires to Predict Psychiatric Morbidity 18 Months After Motor Vehicle Accidents


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Abstract

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common causes of trauma-related psychiatric morbidity. Previous studies have suggested that symptom screening instruments may be useful in predicting risk of longer-term psychiatric morbidity, but results have varied. The present study is based on 83 of an eligible 102 consecutive hospital-admitted survivors of road trauma who completed a structured clinical interview at baseline and 18-month follow-up. A subsample returned symptom questionnaires within 2 weeks of the accident, with between 60 and 66 completing the questionnaire. Receiver Operator Characteristic curve analyses were applied to obtain optimal predictive scores on each screening measure. Combining the derived cutoff scores on the Impact of Event Scale (measuring posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms) and the Beck Depression Inventory yielded an odds ratio of 82.9 in predicting any psychiatric morbidity at 18 months, with a specificity of 95%, and high positive (89%) and negative (91%) predictive indices. If these exploratory findings are confirmed by future studies, the case will be strengthened for routine screening of motor vehicle accident survivors to allow ongoing monitoring and selective early interventions for the high-risk subgroup. Compliance with completing and returning questionnaires remains a major challenge in this population, however, as indicated by the level of attrition in our study.

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