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Abstract

Features of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for 596 survivors of motor vehicle accidents were examined by self-report measures at 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months after the motor vehicle accident (MVA). Latent growth modeling was utilized to study the trend and predictors of the level of distress. Results indicated that 5–20% of the participants reported to have a significant level of posttraumatic stress in one, two, or three of the PTSD symptom clusters within the period studied. Survivors with significant acute stress 1 week after the MVA had a higher risk for developing chronic posttraumatic stress. Although the severity of intrusive and hyperarousal symptoms decreased over time, the severity of avoidance symptoms remained unchanged. Factors predicting the course of PTSD after an MVA are identified.