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The psychological impact of motor vehicle accidents

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O'Donnell, GEH (2002) The psychological impact of motor vehicle accidents. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

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.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Traffic accidents
Copyright Information:

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).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references.

Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2015 03:08
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2017 01:05
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