Peritraumatic reactions and posttraumatic stress disorder in psychiatrically impaired youth

Authors


  • The study was generously funded by the BC McCabe Foundation. We thank Ned Rodriguez, PhD, for methodology and Clara Lajonchere, PhD, for data collection. This article is dedicated to the memory of William Wells.

Abstract

Although peritraumatic dissociation and other subjective peritraumatic reactions, such as emotional distress and arousal, have been shown to affect the relationship between a traumatic event and the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults, systematic studies with youth have not been done. In a mixed ethnic and racial sample of 90 psychiatrically impaired youth (ages 10–18, 56% boys), we investigated the contributions of peritraumatic dissociation, emotional distress, and arousal to current PTSD severity after accounting for the effects of gender, trauma history, trait dissociation, and psychopathology (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and depression). Peritraumatic dissociation emerged as the only peritraumatic variable associated with current PTSD severity assessed both by questionnaire and interview methods (β = .30 and .47 p < .01). Peritraumatic dissociation can be rapidly assessed in clinical practice and warrants further testing in prospective studies as a potential mediator of the trauma-PTSD relationship in youth.

Ancillary