Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 442–464 | Cite as

Predictors of Chronic Trauma-Related Symptoms in a Community Sample of New Zealand Motor Vehicle Accident Survivors

  • Nikolaos KazantzisEmail author
  • James Kennedy-Moffat
  • Ross A. Flett
  • Alexandra M. Petrik
  • Nigel R. Long
  • Bronwyn Castell
Original Paper


This study examined 1,500 New Zealand community-residing adults for involvement in serious motor vehicle accident (MVA) and the development of trauma-related symptomatology. The incidence of MVA was 11 %. More than 50 % of the accident victim sub-sample reported hyperarousal, with exaggerated startle, intrusive recollections, situational avoidance, emotional reactivity, and cognitive avoidance. The high incidence of trauma-related symptoms is noteworthy given 59 % of victims reported sustaining no or mild accident injury, and only 27 % were admitted to hospital for severe injury. Trauma-related symptoms were related to measures of injury severity, psychological and social functioning, and persistent medical problems. Pre- and post-accident factors, that is, experience of additional trauma, experience of stressful life events and post-accident social contact were the most important predictors of trauma-related symptoms severity. This study discusses the importance of examining trauma-related symptoms rather than using categorical diagnostic criteria (i.e., post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD) as a sole means of characterizing the psychological impact of MVA.


Motor vehicle accidents Chronic trauma-related symptoms PTSD Community survey Trauma New Zealand 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikolaos Kazantzis
    • 1
    Email author
  • James Kennedy-Moffat
    • 2
  • Ross A. Flett
    • 2
  • Alexandra M. Petrik
    • 1
  • Nigel R. Long
    • 2
  • Bronwyn Castell
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Psychological ScienceLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Psychological ScienceMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of Psychology at AlbanyMassey UniversityAlbanyNew Zealand

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