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Title: Overgeneral autobiographical memory in children and adolescents exposed to trauma
Author: Ferner, Harriet
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Background and Aims: Early posttraumatic stress reactions are distressing and disabling for a significant minority of children and young people. We aimed to explore the relationship between posttraumatic stress reactions, cognitive variables implicated by an adult cognitive model of PTSD (Ehlers & Clark, 2000), and overgeneral autobiographical memory; a phenomenon linked to depression and trauma in adults, but rarely explored in children. Methods: Emergency department attendees (aged 8-18) and their parents were interviewed 2-6 weeks post-trauma. Children completed a diagnostic interview for acute stress disorder (ASD), and self-report depression and posttraumatic stress symptom severity questionnaires. Established statistical predictors of posttrauatmic stress reactions were measured using child and parent self-report questionnaires. The Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT) (Williams & Broadbent, 1986) was used to assess overgeneral autobiographical memory (OGM). Results: Among participants (N=43), 30.2% met ASD diagnostic criteria. Using step-wise linear regression analysis; avoidance, negative appraisals and, to a lesser extent, rumination accounted for over two-thirds of the variance of posttraumatic stress symptom severity scores in our sample. Rumination and to a lesser extent negative appraisals together accounted for 80% of the variance of scores in depression severity scores. AMT performance did not contribute significantly to these models. However, those with greater depression symptom severity retrieved fewer specific memories in response to positive cue words on the AMT (p = .022). Parental anxiety and depression did not significantly differ between ASD and non-ASD groups. Findings regarding prior emotional and behavioural difficulties were mixed. Conclusions: Avoidance, negative appraisals and rumination, variables identified in adult cognitive models relate to early responses to trauma in children. Overgeneral autobiographical memory appears less important in this respect, but findings remain tentative at this stage.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available