Factors associated with the presentation of persisting post traumatic stress disorder symptoms in people who have sustained traumatic spinal cord injuries
This study aimed to investigate factors associated with persistent Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD) in people with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). In the context of a cognitive
model, it sought to determine how influential cognitive appraisals were in predicting
persistent PTSD when compared to other known predictor variables in the literature such as
injury severity, gender, previous psychiatric history and social support.
A cross-sectional questionnaire survey that examined concurrent predictors of PTSD
symptoms and diagnosis primarily using multiple regression analyses.
A sample of 50 inpatients receiving rehabilitation for SCI who were 3-24 months post- injury
were interviewed using a series of standardised measures of PTSD symptoms and diagnosis,
post-traumatic cognitive appraisals, social support, and injury severity.
For PTSD symptoms, significant relationships were found for greater injury severity, lower
satisfaction with social support and more negative cognitions. PTSD diagnosis was only
related to cognitive variables. Negative cognitions were found to predict variance in PTS
symptoms over and above the non-cognitive variables although gender and injury severity
were also predictors. The only significant predictor of PTSD diagnosis was the cognitive subscale'
negative cognitions about the self.
Cognitive appraisals were found to be important predictors of persisting PTSD in an SCI
population. This supports the cognitive model of PTSD and the development of cognitive
therapies for PTSD in this population. Future research directions are discussed.