Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Its Impact on the Economic and Health Costs of Motor Vehicle Accidents in South Australia
J Clin Psychiatry 2003;64:175-181
© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Background: Motor vehicle accident studies thus
far have focused primarily on psychiatric consequences and
outcomes and medicolegal and treatment aspects, particularly of
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study aimed to
determine the impact of motor vehicle accident-related
psychiatric disorders on health and economic costs in
Method: Of the 3088 victims of motor vehicle
accidents who made a claim through the State Insurance
Commission, South Australia, between November 27, 1996, and March
23, 1999, 391 responded to the study and were assessed using the
28-item General Health Questionnaire, the PTSD Checklist-Civilian
Version, and the Dissociative Experiences Scale. At the end of
the study period, computerized cost records and accounting data
on the health and economic costs incurred were obtained for each
of the subjects.
Results: The total health and economic cost in
Australian dollars for the 391 motor vehicle accident victims was
A$6,369,519.52. At about 9 months after the accident, of the 391
subjects who replied to the questionnaires, 31% were identified
as depressed and 62% as anxious, while 29% met criteria for PTSD.
PTSD cases incurred significantly higher health care costs
compared with non-PTSD cases (p < .001). Untreated PTSD cases
incurred significantly higher economic losses compared with
treated PTSD and non-PTSD cases (p < .05).
Conclusion: The health and economic costs
associated with motor vehicle accidents are enormous. Psychiatric
morbidity among victims was high, and motor vehicle
accident-related PTSD significantly contributed to increased
overall health care and economic costs.