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Traumatic reactions as predictors of posttraumatic stress six months after the Oklahoma City bombing
Psychiatric Services 1997; doi:
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This study attempted to identify remembered reactions of Oklahoma City residents at the time of the April 1995 terrorist bombing that predicted later development of posttraumatic stress symptoms. METHODS: Eighty-six adults who sought help for distress related to the bombing six months after it occurred completed a survey about demographic characteristics, level of exposure to the event, symptoms of grief, retrospective reports of reactions at the time of the trauma, current posttraumatic stress symptoms, and coping strategies. To identify immediate bombing reactions predictive of later distress, retrospective reports of reactions to the trauma were correlated with current posttraumatic stress symptoms. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine which reactions predicted the emergence of posttraumatic stress symptoms. RESULTS: Reactions of being nervous and being upset by how other people acted when the bombing occurred accounted for about one-third of the total variation in posttraumatic stress symptom scores and thus were major predictors of posttraumatic stress. CONCLUSIONS: These results differ from those of other studies in which peritraumatic dissociation, or dissociation at the time of the event, was more predictive than anxiety for developing later distress. The results suggest that persons who experience significant anxiety at the time of the traumatic event may continue to experience distress. Those who are overly concerned about others' actions may be showing diminished interpersonal trust, evidence of terrorism's ability to erode social harmony.

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