Researchers investigate link between childhood trauma and road collision trauma

Katie Lowry

Researchers from DCU and NUIG collaborate on a study to investigate the link between childhood trauma and road collision trauma.

The study is said to be the first of its kind in Ireland, investigating whether there are links between childhood trauma and the psychological trauma brought about by a road traffic collision.

Studies carried out in the past have indicated childhood trauma may leave people vulnerable to experiencing further trauma later in life.

Dr Rosaleen McElvaney,  of the School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health at DCU and Dr Kiran Sarma, School of Psychology at NUI Galway are conducting an online survey seeking to understand how road traffic collisions impact on road users.

Kiran is also a MSc in Psychotherapy student in DCU and is conducting this study as part of his master’s programme.

Dr. McElvaney of DCU has said: “Kiran has been involved in research before on road safety issues and was particularly interested in the phenomenon of people experiencing significant psychological difficulties following what most people might consider a ‘minor’ road traffic accident.”

Kiran is exploring the links between having a history of childhood psychological difficulties with this phenomenon.

It is thought that perhaps the ‘minor’ road traffic accident might trigger reactions that are associated with the childhood difficulties, rather than directly related to what happened in the accident.

Both researchers are currently looking for people to take part in the study which can be done by a survey online.

Participants do not need to have been involved in a road accident to partake in the survey but must drive any form of motorised transport.

The conclusions reached from this study will likely go on to inform mental health professionals who work with those who have been involved in a road accident and consequently seek support for the psychological impact of the event.

Dr. Sarma has said, “It is not uncommon for people to experience psychological trauma after road traffic collisions. This research will help us investigate some of the processes that may be implicated in the emergence of trauma in this context”.

The survey can be found at:

Katie Lowry 

Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures