Background: We evaluated the severity and clinical correlates of nightmares of persons injured in high impact motor vehicle accidents (MVAs).
Method: De-identified data of 80 post-MVA patients (mean age 38.9 years, SD=12.8) were available and included scores on Item 2 of the PCL-5 (severity of repeated, disturbing dreams of the stressful event). Scores were also available on the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), Morin’s Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), Rivermead Post-concussion Symptoms Questionnaire, Subjective Neuropsychological Symptoms Scale (SNPSS), Whiplash Disability Questionnaire, and on three questionnaire measures of driving anxiety (Steiner’s, Whetstone’s, and DAQ). The patients were assessed, on the average, 49.7 weeks (SD=36.3) after their MVA; all still experienced active post-MVA symptoms requiring therapy.
Results: Clinically relevant levels of MVA nightmares were reported by 62.5% of post-MVA patients. Subjectively more aversive levels of MVA nightmares correlated with higher driving anxiety as measured by the Whetstone questionnaire and DAQ, with higher levels of average post-accident pain and insomnia, with post-accident neuropsychological symptoms as measured by the Rivermead and SNPSS, and with higher post-accident levels of depression, anger, and generalized anxiety.
Discussion and Conclusions: Almost two-thirds of our post-MVA patients reported MVA nightmares and their level of subjectively aversive impact correlated with most variables within the typical polytraumatic symptom pattern of these patients.
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