One Third Of Children In Road Traffic Accidents Develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

December 11, 1998

Prospective study of post-traumatic stress disorder in children involved in road traffic accidents

In 1997 the number of road traffic accidents involving young people under the age of 19 years was 72,154. In a study of 119 children involved in road traffic accidents during 1997 Dr Paul Stallard and colleagues from the Royal United Hospital in Bath reveal that one third were found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Published in this week's BMJ, the study found that young people displayed symptoms including sleep disturbance and nightmares, separation anxiety, difficulties in concentration, intrusive thoughts, difficulties in talking to parents and friends, mood disturbance, deterioration in academic performance, specific fears and accident related play.

The authors found that neither the type of accident nor the nature or severity of physical injuries were related to the presence of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, they did find that girls were far more at risk of developing the disorder than boys.

Psychological services for children involved in road traffic accidents are not at present provided in a comprehensive or routine way, say Stallard et al, and they conclude that the psychological needs of these children remain largely unrecognised.


Dr Paul Stallard, Department of Child and Family Psychiatry, Bath Mental Health Care Trust, Royal United Hospital, Bath


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