Appraisals and cognitive coping styles associated with chronic posttraumatic symptoms in child road traffic accident survivors Paul Stallard and Elisabeth Smith (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48:2 2007, pp 194-201)
This study highlights the importance of psychological factors, namely thinking style, in the persistence of symptoms associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children. The authors examined 75 children and young people aged 7-18 who were involved in a road traffic accident and had attended an accident and emergency department eight months after their accident.
They discovered that both how children interpreted what had happened to them and how they mentally attempted to cope with this were important in contributing to persistent symptoms of PTSD. Thus if a child continued to interpret the accident negatively, e.g. seeing it as unfair and life-shattering, it was more likely that they would have persistent symptoms of PTSD. Also, if their attempts to cope with the trauma of the accident were not particularly functional, e.g. just dwelling on it while not trying to think it through and make some meaningful sense of it, or else refusing even to think about it at all, then this too was associated with the likelihood of more chronic symptoms associated with PTSD.
This study is significant in that it highlights the importance of psychological assessment and treatment of how children mentally cope with the psychological impact of an accident.