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Coping with stressful or traumatic events: what aspects of trauma reactions are associated with health outcomes?

Authors
  • Boals, Adriel1
  • Riggs, Shelley A
  • Kraha, Amanda
  • 1 Department of Psychology, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203, USA. [email protected]
Type
Published Article
Journal
Stress and health : journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2013
Volume
29
Issue
2
Pages
156–163
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1002/smi.2443
PMID: 22888078
Source
Medline
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The presence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms has been shown to be related to a number of health outcomes. In the current study, we explored which specific aspects of PTSD are most related to health measures. The associations between the specific DSM-IV-TR PTSD criteria (criteria A-F) and five indicators of health and well-being--physical health symptoms, quality of life, mental health, depression and negative affect--were examined. The sample consisted of 711 undergraduates. A non-clinical sample was recruited so there would be variability in the various criteria for PTSD. Multiple regression analyses revealed that the hyperarousal (criterion D) was the most consistent and strongest predictor of outcomes. However, the F criterion (causes significant impairment) predicted additional variance in quality of life, depression and negative affect. These results suggest that it is not just the mere frequency of trauma symptoms that affect well-being but also the disruptive capability of these symptoms. In addition, follow-up analyses indicated that hyperarousal mediated the association between the A2 criterion (traumatic response) and all five outcome measures. These results underscore the importance of the hyperarousal criterion, while also suggesting the need for increased attention to the F criterion when considering the impact of stressful events on health and well-being. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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