Aims. This paper reports a study to investigate and follow-up relationships between post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and quality of life in patients after traffic-related injuries.
Background. Worldwide, traffic accidents kill 1·2 million people and injure 50 million people per year. Accidental injuries are fourth in the top five causes of death in Taiwan. For survivors, traffic accidents not only cause physical impairments, but also psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, all of which affect the quality of life.
Methods. An exploratory, correlational design was used, and participants were recruited consecutively. Data were collected at 1 and 6 weeks post-injury for 64 patients from two major medical centres in Taiwan. Instruments were the New Injury Severity Scale, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index, Beck Depression Inventory, State Anxiety Inventory and Medical Outcomes Study Questionnaire. The data were collected in 2002.
Results. Statistically significant improvements occurred in depression, anxiety and the quality of life between week 1 and week 6 (P < 0·05); high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms at week 1 (87·5%) and at week 6 (82·8%) showed no statistically significant improvement. There was a positive correlation between post-traumatic stress disorder and depression (r = 0·70, P < 0·001) and between post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety (r = 0·57, P < 0·001), and a negative correlation between post-traumatic stress disorder and quality of life (r = −0·47, P < 0·001). Depression was the most important variable to predict post-traumatic stress disorder at week 6, with depression levels at week 6 being a more powerful predictor than those at week 1. Regression analysis revealed that depression (19%) at week 1, depression at week 6 (45%), anxiety (3·8%) at week 6 and post-traumatic stress disorder (5·8%) explained a statistically significant amount of the variance at week 6.
Conclusions. The findings suggest that traffic accidents have an impact on people's psychosocial wellbeing. Healthcare professionals need to implement interventions to decrease post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety to increase the quality of life for patients following traffic injuries.