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Professional and medical outcomes for French train drivers after “person under train” accidents: three year follow up study
  1. C Cothereau1,
  2. C de Beaurepaire1,
  3. C Payan2,
  4. J P Cambou1,
  5. F Rouillon3,
  6. F Conso1
  1. 1Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF), Direction des Ressources Humaines, Département des Services Médicaux, Paris, France
  2. 2Hôpital La Pitié-Salpêtrière, 43–87 Bd de l’Hopital, 75013 Paris, France
  3. 3Hôpital Chenevier, 40 rue de Mesly, 94000 Créteil, France
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr C Cothereau
 SNCF, 44 rue de Rome, 75008 Paris, France;


Aims: To investigate psychiatric disorders, somatic health, and professional effects in French train drivers having experienced a “person under train” accident, and somatic health and professional effects.

Methods: A total of 202 train drivers were evaluated several times: immediately after the event, three months later, and one, two, and three years later. These drivers were compared with 186 train drivers not exposed to that psychotraumatic shock. The evaluations relied primarily on the GHQ-28 and MINI questionnaires.

Results: In the exposed group, at the first evaluation, the prevalence of post-traumatic stress was 4%; scores ⩾5 on the GHQ-28 were significantly higher than in the non-exposed group (32% versus 6%), for both the overall result and three sub-scores (somatic symptoms, anxiety and sleep, and psychosocial functioning). All these differences disappeared within a year. Vulnerability factors concerned prior traumas, acute and lasting life events, and the particular occupational situation where the driver is not accompanied but drives the train away alone in the aftermath of the accident. Over 95% of subjects had no short, medium, or long term impairment of their occupational fitness.

Conclusions: Most of the psycho-behavioural disorders were observed in the immediate aftermath of the accident and disappeared within a year. The driver’s occupational future does not seem to be affected by the “person under train” accident. Consideration of a traumatic accident as a job related risk and close psychological support of drivers after an accident probably increase the subject’s ability to recover from the event.

  • railways
  • train driver
  • epidemiological study
  • occupational medicine
  • PTSD
  • GAD, generalised anxiety disorder
  • GAF, Global Assessment of Functioning scale
  • GHQ, General Health Questionnaire
  • MINI, Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview
  • OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder
  • PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder

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  • * Since our study, it was found that two months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, prevalence of PTSD was higher in New York (11.2%) than elsewhere in the United States (4%).9

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