Maladaptive Appraisals as a Risk Factor for Posttraumatic Stress: A Study of Trainee Firefighters

School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 11/2005; 16(10):749-52. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2005.01608.x
Source: PubMed


This study tested the proposal that catastrophic appraisals are a risk factor for developing stress reactions after trauma. Trainee firefighters (N = 82) were assessed during training (and before trauma exposure), and 68 firefighters were subsequently reassessed 6 months after commencing firefighter duty (after trauma exposure). Initial assessment included the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale, the Traumatic Events Questionnaire, and the Posttraumatic Cognitions Inventory. The Clinician Administered PTSD Scale was again administered approximately 20 months after initial assessment and after trauma exposure. Posttraumatic stress at follow-up was predicted by pre*trauma catastrophic thinking (24% of variance). These findings accord with cognitive models predicting that a tendency to catastrophize about negative events is a risk factor for developing posttraumatic stress symptoms.

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    • "The vast majority of studies in children and adolescents have focused on single-incident trauma (most commonly motor vehicle and other accidents), with fewer investigations of longer-term exposures, for example to sexual or physical abuse. Events that affect large groups, like natural disasters or war, may be appraised differently than those affecting individuals ; intentional acts of interpersonal violence may be interpreted more negatively than natural disasters or accidents (Bryant and Guthrie 2005; Meiser-Stedman et al. 2009b; Trickey et al. 2012). To our knowledge, only a handful of studies, in adults, have directly compared the effects of different types of trauma on either negative appraisals or psychopathological outcomes. "
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    ABSTRACT: The cognitive model posits that negative appraisals play an important role in posttraumatic stress disorder, in children as well as in adults. This study examined correlates of negative appraisals in relation to trauma exposure and their relationship to posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in 414 Sri Lankan adolescents, aged 12 to 16, living in areas impacted in varying degrees by the 2004 tsunami. In 2008, participants completed measures of negative appraisals, lifetime traumatic events, posttraumatic stress symptoms, internalizing symptoms, ongoing adversity, and social support. The majority (70 %) of the participants reported multiple traumatic events; 25 % met DSM-IV criteria for full or partial PTSD. Adolescents who had experienced more severe events, abusive events, greater cumulative trauma, or greater current adversity reported more negative appraisals. In regression analyses controlling for known risk factors such as female gender, cumulative trauma, ongoing adversity, and low social support, negative appraisals were the best predictor of PTSS, explaining 22 % of the variance. This relationship appeared specific to PTSS, as negative appraisals did not predict internalizing symptoms. Findings confirm the link between negative cognitions concerning traumatic events and persistent PTSS in adolescents, but longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether appraisals contribute to symptom maintenance over time.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 02/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10802-015-9985-y · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    • "Another study in 47 probationary male firefighters found 16.3% met PTSD criteria after 2 years as a firefighter, compared with 0% PTSD prevalence after completing initial training (Heinrichs et al., 2005). These prospective studies allowed identification of pre-exposure risk factors for post-traumatic stress, such as increased arousal (Guthrie & Bryant, 2005), negative selfappraisals (Bryant & Guthrie, 2007), high hostility (Heinrichs et al., 2005) and low selfefficacy (Heinrichs et al., 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study compared psychological distress and coping strategies for three different permanent firefighter groups in South-East Queensland, Australia: recruits (n = 42), on-shift firefighters (n = 51), and firefighters who had recently attended one of 13 fatal incidents (n = 52). Older firefighters reported more general distress but no increase in posttraumatic stress symptoms. Coping strategies tended to be associated with higher distress and posttraumatic stress, but once this general tendency was taken into account, seeking instrumental support was associated with lower posttraumatic stress symptoms. Results support previous findings that cumulative exposure and events outside work contribute to distress in firefighters.
    Journal of Loss and Trauma 11/2010; 15(6-6):548-560. DOI:10.1080/15325024.2010.519275 · 1.03 Impact Factor
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    • "This study will take both construals of meaning into account in studying the cognitive processing of war and peacekeeping experiences. As negative appraisals have been shown to be associated with the development of posttraumatic stress pathology (Ali, Dunmore, Clark, & Ehlers, 2002; Bryant & Guthrie, 2005; Ehlers & Clark, 2000; O'Donnell et al., 2007), this study focuses on personal resources of resilience in relation to these two construals of meaning after war and peacekeeping experiences. "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study was to examine whether the specific personal resources of self-esteem, optimism and perceived control, combined in the latent variable called 'resilience', were associated with cognitive processing of war-zone experiences. Data were collected by questionnaires from a sample of 1.561 veterans who had participated in various war or peacekeeping operations. Structural equation modelling was performed to assess the expected relationships between the observed and latent variables. The construct of resilience was well-defined and proved to be strongly associated with both construals of meaning, comprehensibility versus personal significance, after military deployment. According to our model, higher resilience predicted less distrust in others and the world, more personal growth and less intrusions and avoidance after military deployment.
    Aging and Mental Health 04/2010; 14(3):328-38. DOI:10.1080/13607860903228812 · 1.75 Impact Factor
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