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The role of psychological symptoms and social group memberships in the development of post-traumatic stress after traumatic injury

Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, Canada School of Psychology, University of Exeter, UK School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Australia Department of Emergency Medicine, Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, UK School of Psychology, University of Surrey, UK.
British Journal of Health Psychology (Impact Factor: 2.7). 04/2012; 17(4):798-811. DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8287.2012.02074.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Objectives. The costs associated with traumatic injury are often exacerbated by the development of post-traumatic stress symptoms. However, it is unclear what decreases the development of post-traumatic symptoms over time. The aim of the present research was to examine the role of psychological symptoms and social group memberships in reducing the development of post-traumatic stress symptoms after orthopaedic injuries (OIs) and acquired brain injuries (ABIs). Design and Methods. A longitudinal prospective study assessed self-reported general health symptoms, social group memberships, and post-traumatic stress symptoms among participants with mild or moderate ABI (n= 62) or upper limb OI (n= 31) at 2 weeks (T1) and 3 months (T2) after injury. Results. Hierarchical regressions revealed that having fewer T1 general health symptoms predicted lower levels of T2 post-traumatic stress symptoms after OI but forming more new group memberships at T1 predicted lower levels of T2 post-traumatic stress symptoms after ABI. Conclusion. A focus on acquiring group memberships may be particularly important in reducing the development of post-traumatic stress symptoms after injuries, such as ABI, which result in long-term life changes. STATEMENT OF CONTRIBUTION: WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN ON THIS SUBJECT?: •  Post-traumatic stress symptoms are a common outcome after accidental traumatic injury. •  Persistent post-traumatic stress symptoms can be a risk factor for the development of PTSD. WHAT DOES THIS STUDY ADD?: •  New insight into the contributions of general health symptoms and social group memberships in the development of post-traumatic stress symptoms after accidental injury. •  The development of post-traumatic stress symptoms over time is associated with higher levels of general health symptoms among individuals with orthopaedic injuries; They are associated with lower levels of social group memberships among individuals with acquired brain injuries.

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