Motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) are the leading cause of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the general population, often with enduring symptomatology. This study details epidemiological and clinical features that characterize PTSD among MVA victims living in a nonhospitalized community setting long after the MVA event, and includes exploration of premorbid and peritraumatic factors. MVA victims (n = 60; 23 males, 37 females) identified from the registry of a community general health outpatient clinic during a 7-year period were administered an extensive structured battery of epidemiological, diagnostic and clinical ratings. Results indicated that 30 subjects (50%; 12 males, 18 females) had MVA-related PTSD (MVAR-PTSD). Among those with PTSD, 16 individuals exhibited PTSD in partial remission, and six, in full remission. There were no significant demographic or occupational junction differences between PTSD and non-PTSD groups. The most common comorbid conditions with MVAR-PTSD were social phobia (20%), generalized anxiety disorder (7.8%) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (0.5%). Previous MVA's were not predictive of PTSD. Subjects with MVAR-PTSD scored worse on the Clinician-Administered Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Scale, Part 2 (CAPS-2), Impact of Event Scale, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, Impulsivity Scale, and Toronto Alexithymia Rating Scale. Study observations indicate a relatively high rate of PTSD following an MVA in a community-based sample. The relatively high rate of partially remitted MVAR-PTSD (N = 16) underscores the importance of subsyndromal forms of illness. Alexithymia may be an adaptive method of coping with event stress. The development of PTSD appears not to be associated with the severity of MVA-related physical injury.
- MVA-related PTSD
- Motor vehicle accident
- Post-traumatic stress disorder