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Guilt is associated with acute stress symptoms in children after road traffic accidents


Haag, Ann-Christin; Zehnder, Daniel; Landolt, Markus A (2015). Guilt is associated with acute stress symptoms in children after road traffic accidents. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 6:29074.

Abstract

Background: Although previous research has consistently found considerable rates of acute stress disorder (ASD) in children with accidental injuries, knowledge about determinants of ASD remains incomplete. Guilt is a common reaction among children after a traumatic event and has been shown to contribute to posttraumatic stress disorder. However, its relationship to ASD has never been examined.
Objective: This study assessed the prevalence of ASD in children and adolescents following road traffic accidents (RTAs). Moreover, the association between peritraumatic guilt and ASD was investigated relying on current cognitive theories of posttraumatic stress and controlling for female sex, age, socioeconomic status (SES), injury severity, inpatient treatment, pretrauma psychopathology, and maternal posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS).
Methods: One hundred and one children and adolescents (aged 7–16 years) were assessed by means of a clinical interview approximately 10 days after an RTA. Mothers were assessed by questionnaires.
Results: Three participants (3.0%) met diagnostic criteria for full ASD according to DSM-IV, and 17 (16.8%) for subsyndromal ASD. In a multivariate regression model, guilt was found to be a significant predictor of ASD severity. Female sex, outpatient treatment, and maternal PTSS also predicted ASD severity. Child age, SES, injury severity, and pretraumatic child psychopathology were not related to ASD severity.
Conclusions: Future research should examine the association between peritraumatic guilt and acute stress symptoms in more detail. Moreover, guilt appraisals in the acute phase after an accident might be a relevant target for clinical attention.

Abstract

Background: Although previous research has consistently found considerable rates of acute stress disorder (ASD) in children with accidental injuries, knowledge about determinants of ASD remains incomplete. Guilt is a common reaction among children after a traumatic event and has been shown to contribute to posttraumatic stress disorder. However, its relationship to ASD has never been examined.
Objective: This study assessed the prevalence of ASD in children and adolescents following road traffic accidents (RTAs). Moreover, the association between peritraumatic guilt and ASD was investigated relying on current cognitive theories of posttraumatic stress and controlling for female sex, age, socioeconomic status (SES), injury severity, inpatient treatment, pretrauma psychopathology, and maternal posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS).
Methods: One hundred and one children and adolescents (aged 7–16 years) were assessed by means of a clinical interview approximately 10 days after an RTA. Mothers were assessed by questionnaires.
Results: Three participants (3.0%) met diagnostic criteria for full ASD according to DSM-IV, and 17 (16.8%) for subsyndromal ASD. In a multivariate regression model, guilt was found to be a significant predictor of ASD severity. Female sex, outpatient treatment, and maternal PTSS also predicted ASD severity. Child age, SES, injury severity, and pretraumatic child psychopathology were not related to ASD severity.
Conclusions: Future research should examine the association between peritraumatic guilt and acute stress symptoms in more detail. Moreover, guilt appraisals in the acute phase after an accident might be a relevant target for clinical attention.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:28 October 2015
Deposited On:27 Nov 2015 14:31
Last Modified:10 Aug 2017 12:36
Publisher:Co-Action Publishing
ISSN:2000-8066
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3402/ejpt.v6.29074
PubMed ID:26514158

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