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J Trauma Dissociation. 2013;14(5):501-18. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2013.769479.

Psychological responses after a major, fatal earthquake: the effect of peritraumatic dissociation and posttraumatic stress symptoms on anxiety and depression.

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a Department of Psychology , University of Canterbury , Christchurch , New Zealand.


Following trauma, most people with initial symptoms of stress recover, but it is important to identify those at risk for continuing difficulties so resources are allocated appropriately. There has been limited investigation of predictors of posttraumatic stress disorder following natural disasters. This study assessed psychological difficulties experienced in 101 adult treatment seekers following exposure to a significant earthquake. Peritraumatic dissociation, posttraumatic stress symptoms, anxiety, depression, and emotional support were assessed. Path analysis was used to determine whether the experience of some psychological difficulties predicted the experience of other difficulties. As hypothesized, peritraumatic dissociation was found to predict posttraumatic stress symptoms and anxiety. Posttraumatic stress symptoms then predicted anxiety and depression. Depression and anxiety were highly correlated. Contrary to expectations, emotional support was not significantly related to other psychological variables. These findings justify the provision of psychological support following a natural disaster and suggest the benefit of assessing peritraumatic dissociation and posttraumatic stress symptoms soon after the event to identify people in need of monitoring and intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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