SYMPTOMS OF TRAUMATIC STRESS IN MOTHERS OF CHILDREN VICTIMS OF A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT


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Abstract

Background:Motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) are the main cause of Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in industrialized countries. This includes the frequently occurring but understudied situation of parents learning that their children were injured. However, unlike in other types of trauma survivors, little is known about the predictors of PTSD symptoms in mothers whose child has suffered an MVA.Methods:A group of 72 mothers and 28 fathers were prospectively assessed for peritraumatic distress, peritraumatic dissociation, and PTSD symptoms 1 and 5 weeks after their child had suffered an MVA.Results:Levels of peritraumatic distress and dissociation were comparable to other trauma victims, 18% of the mothers were considered to be suffering from probable PTSD. In mothers, significant positive correlations were found between PTSD symptoms and peritraumatic distress (r=.34) and dissociation (r=.37), whereas mothers' PTSD symptoms were associated with decreased peritraumatic dissociation in fathers (r=−.37). Even after controlling for covictim/witness status, peritraumatic distress was a predictor of mothers' PTSD symptoms, explaining 14% of the variance.Conclusions:Peritraumatic response and PTSD symptoms should be routinely assessed among parents whose child has experienced a traumatic event.

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