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Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2014 Apr;19(2):233-43. doi: 10.1177/1359104513487000. Epub 2013 May 15.

Understanding recovery in children following traffic-related injuries: exploring acute traumatic stress reactions, child coping, and coping assistance.

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1Center for Injury Research & Prevention, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, USA.


Millions of children incur potentially traumatic physical injuries every year. Most children recover well from their injury but many go on to develop persistent traumatic stress reactions. This study aimed to describe children's coping and coping assistance (i.e., the ways in which parents and peers help children cope) strategies and to explore the association between coping and acute stress reactions following an injury. Children (N = 243) rated their acute traumatic stress reactions within one month of injury and reported on coping and coping assistance six months later. Parents completed a measure of coping assistance at the six-month assessment. Children used an average of five to six coping strategies (out of 10), with wishful thinking, social support, and distraction endorsed most frequently. Child coping was associated with parent and peer coping assistance strategies. Significant acute stress reactions were related to subsequent child use of coping strategies (distraction, social withdrawal, problem-solving, blaming others) and to child report of parent use of distraction (as a coping assistance strategy). Findings suggest that children's acute stress reactions may influence their selection of coping and coping assistance strategies. To best inform interventions, research is needed to examine change in coping behaviors and coping assistance over time, including potential bidirectional relationships between trauma reactions and coping.


Child; coping; coping assistance; injury; traumatic stress

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