OBJECTIVE: The aim of this prospective study was to determine the psychological effects of everyday road traffic accidents (RTAs). METHODS: A community follow-up study was made of children (75 boys and 83 girls aged 7-18)-attending an Accident and Emergency Department after being involved in an RTA. Diagnostic clinical interview and self-completed psychometric assessments were performed. RESULTS: Four weeks post-accident diagnostic interviews revealed that 46 (29.1 %) children fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Screening questionnaires identified 20.3% with significant levels of anxiety and 17.7% with scores above threshold levels for possible clinical depression. Type of accident, nature and severity of injury and age were not related to the development of PTSD. Gender was significant, with girls being more likely than boys to develop PTSD. CONCLUSION: Significant psychological distress following RTAs is common. The need to raise awareness of the possible psychological sequelae of everyday RTAs is highlighted.
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