Associations Between Motor Vehicle Crashes and Mental Health Problems
Car crashes are for obvious reasons mainly associated with physical injuries, but what is the association between motor vehicle crashes and mental health problems?
Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina set out to find out:
To date, only a few studies have explored the psychological impact of surviving a serious MVC (Motor Vehicle Crash) among children and adolescents in the United States, and these studies have generally focused on acute and chronic stress symptoms
The researchers aimed to examine if a car crash would create or worsen mental health outcomes such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and drug and alcohol misuse.
The team behind the research contacted some 6,694 households to take part in the study.
Results from the study revealed differences between those who had been involved in a car crash and those who hadn’t:
After accounting for other risk factors, having an MVC was only associated with current Major Depressive Episode (MDE) and alcohol abuse among younger adolescents, and among older adolescents, was associated with alcohol abuse only.
This research may well be the first to explore explore adverse mental health outcomes associated with car crashes beyond traumatic stress symptoms among adolescents and as such as some practical implications:
In terms of clinical implications, clinicians should screen children and adolescents after an MVC for mood and substance use problems beyond PTSD
It could be argued that in some cases the psychological aftermath of a motor vehicle crash could be as significant as the physical aftermath.