Hatcher, M.B., Whitaker, C. and Karl, A.
What predicts posttraumatic stress following spinal cord injury?
British Journal of Health Psychology
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Objectives. Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a severe, traumatic event and recently research into the role of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) subsequent to the injury has become of increasing interest. This study has been conducted in order to
investigate potential risk factors for the development of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in those with SCI.
Design. This cross-sectional study used multiple regression analysis to look for associations between posttraumatic stress symptom severity, SCI-related factors and previously identified risk factors for PTSD such as dysfunctional cognitions, demographic factors and personality predispositions (neuroticism, alexithymia).
Method. A total of 102 participants with SCI completed measures of posttraumatic stress severity, acceptance of injury, posttraumatic cognitions, social support, neuroticism and alexithymia. In addition, information about type, level and cause of the SCI was assessed.
Results. High levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms were found. Potential risk factors for the development of PTSD were negative cognitions of self and neuroticism. Variables that added to the variance explained by the models included time since njury
and difficulty identifying feelings. Acceptance of injury was ediated by negative cognitions of the self and neuroticism.
Conclusions. The study highlights the need for services to be aware of the psychological difficulties experienced by this client group. An important finding is that the acceptance of the injury is mediated by negative cognitions of the self which need to
be identified as potential risk factors in order to prevent the development of posttraumatic symptoms in this population.
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