University Of Tasmania

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The psychological impact of motor vehicle accidents

posted on 2023-05-27, 16:38 authored by O'Donnell, GEH
Exposure to a traumatic event may result in the development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). Biopsychosocial variables associated with these disorders following motor vehicle accident [MVA] trauma were the subject of this investigation. Reviews of the diagnostic classification of the psychological sequelae of trauma exposure, and theoretical models of the aetiology of posttraumatic stress disorders preceded the empirical studies. Posttraumatic responses were concluded to be affected by multiple biopsychosocial mechanisms best represented by an integrated aetiological model. Consequently, the need for multimodal assessment of posttraumatic psychological responses was evident, and existing assessment methods were discussed. ASD was found to be the subject of relatively little research to date when compared with PTSD, highlighting a need for comprehensive examination of the more recently introduced diagnostic entity. The empirical studies focused on the examination of multi-variable profiles associated with diagnosis-specific psychological sequelae to MVA trauma. The first study was a large scale screen of an Australian university student sample (N = 425), and was conducted to investigate MVA trauma exposure and associated posttraumatic symptoms. In the second study, psychometric data were used to investigate coping styles and belief systems associated with the development of PTSD, ASD and subclinical responses to MVA trauma (N = 83). The results indicated little difference in the profiles of the ASD and subclinical groups, which were characterized by adaptive coping and rational belief systems. The PTSD group profile was characterized by a combination of adaptive and maladaptive coping, and no differences were found between the three groups in terms of rationality of beliefs. Study three demonstrated the use of a multimodal tool to assess associations between recollections of peritraumatic responses and posttraumatic diagnostic outcomes. Psychological and psychophysiological reactivity to trauma-related and neutral idiosyncratic imaged events were examined using a four stage guided imagery methodology (N = 51), and multimodal group-specific response patterns were detected. Study four investigated perceived posttraumatic psychological outcomes of the three experimental groups (N = 83). The ASD and subclinical group profiles reflected adaptive and positive posttraumatic recovery, but also reflected that all participants, regardless of diagnosis, were psychologically affected by MVA exposure. The PTSD group profile was characterized by a broad range of negative posttraumatic outcomes, pervasive in many aspects of functioning. Consideration was given to factors that may have led to these between group differences. The results of the empirical studies supported the proposition that PTSD and ASD are distinct diagnostic entities that may be differentiated on the basis of a complex array of biopsychosocial variables. The implications of the results for the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of posttraumatic responses were discussed, and directions for future research were suggested.


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Copyright 2002 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references.

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