Mental health status of drivers – Motor vehicle accidents perpetrators
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Instytut Medycyny Pracy im. prof. J. Nofera / Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland (Zakład Psychologii Zdrowia i Pracy / Department of Health and Work Psychology)
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Dorota Merecz-Kot   

Instytut Medycyny Pracy im. prof. J. Nofera, Zakład Psychologii Zdrowia i Pracy, ul. św. Teresy 8, 91-348 Łódź
Med Pr 2015;66(4):525–538
Background: This study aimed at exploring the phenomenon of motor vehicle accidents (MVA). The following research questions were addressed: what are the immediate reactions to accidents among MVA perpetrators, do MVA perpetrators develop posttraumatic stress symptoms, and what are the differences between high and low symptomatic signs in terms of socio-demographics and accident features? Material and Methods: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) questionnaire by Watson et al. in the Polish adaptation was applied to assess PTSD and its subclinical symptoms. The information on the MVA nature, declared MVA causes, drivers’ reactions after MVA, as well as on the age, education and history of driving in the study group was collected. The results of psychological examination obtained from 209 MVA perpetrators were analyzed. The examination took place at least 1 month after the accident. Results: In 1/3 of the study group no physiological reactions were observed directly after the accident, while 46% of respondents experienced trembling and shaking and about 30% of subjects were crying or having tears in their eyes. Compassion for the injured and victims, guilt, helplessness and fear were the most common among immediate psychological reactions related to the accident. On the day of psychological examination 11.2% of drivers met diagnostic criteria for PTSD according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth edition (DSM-IV). Drivers showing low and high PTSD symptoms did not differ in terms of age, education, and subjective perception of accident cause. Women were significantly overrepresented it the group meeting the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Conclusions: The results of the study indicate the need to carry on systematic screening for mental health problems in drivers involved in serious MVA as a part of strategy for improving road safety. Med Pr 2015;66(4):525–538