Many Children Affected by Posttraumatic Stress Disorder after Traffic Accidents

Posted on May 30, 2014

Nearly every third child in Sweden who is injured in traffic is subsequently affected by posttraumatic stress disorder. Every fifth child is still suffering from mental and psychosocial problems one year after the accident. These are the conclusions of a thesis submitted at the Sahlgrenska Academy, which shows also that only 6 out of 10 Swedish children and adolescents who are involved in a traffic accidents wear a helmet when cycling.

Research student Eva Olofsson has examined the consequences of road traffic injuries in children. One of her studies shows that approximately 30% of children who are injured in traffic suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder one month after the accident.

The stress disorder lasts from three to six months in one sixth of the children.

"The children often experience much stress and fear in association with the accident, and may feel that their life is in danger. This can cause posttraumatic stress disorder (anxiety disorder) in the long term, and this may constitute a major obstacle in their everyday lives," says Eva Olofsson.

Another study asked 292 children who had been injured in traffic in the Gothenburg region about residual consequences of the accident. The children completed a questionnaire, which showed that one year after the accident 22% of the children were still suffering from mental and psychosocial problems connected with it.

This means that residual mental problems are more common among children who have been in an accident than physical problems (which affected 16% of children injured in traffic in the Gothenburg region).

The residual mental problems were, however, not related to the severity of the physical injuries.

"My results suggest that the experience of having an accident has a greater effect that the actual physical injuries. To be injured as an unprotected pedestrian in an accident with a vehicle can be experienced are more stressful, more frightening and more threatening than, for example, a cycling accident with no-one else involved. We saw also that receiving care as an inpatient, with procedures that may be experienced as frightening in an unfamiliar environment, may produce more stress than receiving care at a clinic and being allowed home the same day."


Category(s):Child Development

Source material from University of Gothenburg


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