THE ROLE OF ATTRIBUTION OF TRAUMA RESPONSIBILITY IN POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER FOLLOWING MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

Authors


Correspondence to: Angela Nickerson, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia. E-mail: a.nickerson@unsw.edu.au; anickerson@psy.unsw.edu.au

Abstract

Background

Motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) are highly prevalent and associated with adverse psychological outcomes.

Methods

The present study used data from the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication (NCS-R) to examine the association between injury, role in an MVA (driver/nondriver), attributions of responsibility for the accident, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amongst 165 MVA survivors.

Results

Findings indicated that drivers with external attributions of the MVA (i.e. who considered others to be at fault for the MVA) were significantly more likely to have a diagnosis of PTSD than drivers with internal attributions (i.e. considering themselves to be at fault) and nondrivers with external attributions of the accident. Further, serious injury sustained in the accident was related to greater likelihood of developing PTSD.

Conclusions

External attributions for the MVA among drivers, as well as serious injury during the accident, were related to higher rates of PTSD. The present findings have implications for models that highlight the importance of posttraumatic cognitions in contributing to mental health following a traumatic event.

Ancillary