Background Worldwide, about 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic accidents (World Health Organisation’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015) and as many as 50 million people are injured. In Portugal, last year we have registered about 480 deaths, 2.098 severely injured. Trauma, after road traffic accidents are a major problem of public health, associated with a substantial impact on psychological, social, economic and labour dimensions, both for the victims and for their families.
Description of the problem Road traffic accidents are frequently associated with an increased risk for psychological problems, particularly acute reaction to stress, phobic anxiety, depression, or even a posttraumatic stress disorder. The consequences involve increased medical costs and longer hospitalizations, decreased productivity, help-seeking behaviour. Most of these patients with somatization complains, conversive symptoms, depression, chronic pain, presents a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) not diagnosed.
Results In order to implement appropriate strategies for prevention and treatment and so reducing the risk and impact inherent in the development of psychological disorders, it is essential that the diagnosis is made as soon as possible. The survivors of road traffic accident at risk will be referred to the Centre for Prevention and Treatment of Psychological Trauma before being discharged from the General Hospital: Emergency Room, Surgery, Orthotraumatology or Neurosurgery Wards.
They will be subjected to a brief screening for symptoms of PTSD, dissociative symptoms, anxiety, nightmares and phobias, briefly after the accident and 4 weeks later. This is a challenge that requires a networking efforts for effective prevention.
Conclusions Early identification of people with posttraumatic stress symptoms after a road traffic accident is critical to allow for intervention and prevent greater impairment and restriction.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- road traffic accidents
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