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Behav Sci (Basel). 2013 Oct 25;3(4):587-600. doi: 10.3390/bs3040587. eCollection 2013 Dec.

Psychological distress and post-traumatic symptoms following occupational accidents.

Author information

1
Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Via Venezia, 8, 35131 Padova, Italy; E-Mails: caterina.novara@unipd.it (C.N.); giulia.buodo@unipd.it (G.B.); scozzari.simona@gmail.com (S.S.); arianna.dinatale@email.it (A.D.N.); ezio.sanavio@unipd.it (E.S.); daniela.palomba@unipd.it (D.P.).
2
Department of Psychology, Middlebury College, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, 276 Bicentennial Way, Middlebury, VT 05753, USA; E-Mail: mkimble@middlebury.edu.

Abstract

Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder frequently occur as a consequence of occupational accidents. To date, research has been primarily focused on high-risk workers, such as police officers or firefighters, and has rarely considered individuals whose occupational environment involves the risk of severe, but not necessarily life-threatening, injury. Therefore, the present study was aimed at assessing the psychological consequences of accidents occurring in several occupational settings (e.g., construction and industry). Thirty-eight victims of occupational accidents (injured workers) and 38 gender-, age-, and years of education-matched workers who never experienced a work accident (control group) were recruited. All participants underwent a semi-structured interview administered by a trained psychologist, and then were requested to fill in the questionnaires. Injured workers reported more severe anxious, post-traumatic and depressive symptoms, and poorer coping skills, as compared to controls. In the injured group low levels of resilience predicted post-traumatic symptomatology, whereas the degree of physical injury and the length of time since the accident did not play a predictive role. The results suggest that occupational accidents may result in a disabling psychopathological condition, and that a brief psychological evaluation should be included in the assessment of seriously injured workers.

KEYWORDS:

assessment; post-traumatic stress disorder; psychological distress; trauma; work accidents

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