Prevention of the development of psychological distress following a motor vehicle crash: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Trials, 2016, 17 (1)
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Guest et al. Background: It is estimated that up to 50 % of motor vehicle crash survivors develop significant psychological distress, such as depressive mood and anxiety, within 6 months of the crash. Associated impacts include loss of employment, delayed return to work, financial and familial stress, and increased medical and compensation costs. The major aim of this research is to investigate the efficacy of interventions for preventing the development of psychological distress following a motor vehicle crash. The efficacy of two brief interventions will be examined: a cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) programme, targeting mood and anxiety, and a lifestyle programme, targeting sleep, diet and physical activity. Methods/design: This is a randomized, controlled multisite study. Participants include at least 180 adults injured in a motor vehicle crash who have entered a compensation process. Research will compare outcomes in three groups randomly assigned to: one group of 60 adults, who receive a brief email-delivered CBT programme, with one session every 2 weeks for 10 weeks and telephone contact every 2 weeks; a second group of 60 adults, who receive a brief email-delivered lifestyle intervention involving one session every 2 weeks for 10 weeks with telephone contact; and an active waiting-list control group of 60 adults who are provided claims processing-related reading material along with telephone contact every 2 weeks for 10 weeks. Participants will be recruited within 12 weeks of the motor vehicle crash, and will be comprehensively assessed before and after treatment, and 6 and 12 months post-injury. Assuming an α probability level of 0.05 and a power of 80 %, at least 180 participants will be recruited. The primary outcome measure is the presence and severity of psychological distress or disorder. Secondary outcome measures include assessment of self-efficacy, resilience employment status, social activity and support, lifestyle and physical health factors, along with process outcome measures of treatment acceptability, feasibility and generalizability. Discussion: This study will determine whether brief email-delivered interventions distributed soon after the injury and entry into the claims process can be effective in preventing the development of psychological distress. Trial registration: ANZCTR, ACTRN12615000326594. Registered on 9 April 2015.
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