Clinicians and medico-legal experts alike assess individuals following life threatening road accidents for evidence of post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression.
These are typically time limited and recovery is accelerated by brief psychological and psychotropic intervention.
Increased attention has been paid in the last 20 years to the possible benefits and growth experienced as a result of victims adverse experiences. Theory is rapidly being developed regarding who, why, and how people perceive benefit after traumatic events and how such benefits can be encouraged (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1995).
In the UK, a pilot study is underway to clarify what types of benefits are experienced by road traffic accident victims and to what extent these benefits are perceived as occurring. Claimants are routinely asked what, if any, positive outcomes have occurred following their adverse event (e.g. type, extent, duration). A typology of such benefits is being constructed in order that a sample of claimants can be asked to rate the relative occurrence of each benefit for them personally.
Many questions are raised by this paradoxical hypothesis (Cann, Koch and Williams, 2012) (In preparation) – such as, does perceived benefit predict prognosis, does perceived benefit moderate the effect of severe trauma, implications for clinical interventions and future research will be addressed.
Calhoun LH & Tedeschi R G (1991) Perceived benefit in traumatic events: some issues for practising psychologists. J Training and practice in Professional Psychology. 5, 45 – 52.
Cann A, Koch HCH & Williams J (2012, in preparation) Posttraumatic Growth: A UK/USA perspective British Journal Medical Health Nursing, 2012.