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


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.

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    • "For example, Haslam et al. (2008) found that life satisfaction among patients recovering from stroke was greater for those who belonged to more social groups before their stroke, and who retained more of those group memberships following their stroke. In addition, the formation of new group memberships following a traumatic event has been found to predict fewer symptoms of traumatic stress over time, after controlling for individual differences in post-traumatic symptoms at baseline (Jones et al., 2012). This is because, to the extent that people identify with them, groups provide a basis for a sense of belonging, meaning, support and efficacy (Cruwys, Haslam, Dingle, Haslam, & Jetten, 2014; Haslam, Jetten, Postmes, & Haslam, 2009), and social identities provide a reservoir of social resources that the individual can draw on in their recovery journey. "
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