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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2007 Oct;75(5):683-92.

Predictors of posttraumatic distress 1 year after exposure to community violence: the importance of acute symptom severity.

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School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Australia.


In this longitudinal study of 333 primarily male, Hispanic survivors of community violence, the authors investigated the effects of 4 categories of risk factors on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity: demographic characteristics, pretraumatic psychological factors, characteristics of the trauma, and reactions to the trauma. Replicating past research, exemplars from all 4 categories predicted PTSD symptom severity at 12-month follow-up. Acute symptom severity, measured approximately 5 days posttrauma, accounted for the largest proportion of variance among all the predictors included. No other predictors remained significant after 5-day distress was included in the model. These findings suggest that the effects of several purported risk factors for chronic posttraumatic distress may already be reflected in acute distress following trauma exposure. These results bear on current conceptions of the fundamental nature of PTSD and suggest that initial distress during the immediate aftermath of the trauma may be an important target for intervention.

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