Some Considerations in the Study of Traumatic Stress1


  • Stanislav V. Kasl

    1. Yale University School of Medicine
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      Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Stanislav V. Kasl, Yale University School of Medicine, P.O. Box 3333, New Haven, CT 06510–8034.

  • 1

    Based on Discussant Comments offered at the NIMH Workshop “Traumatic Stress: Defining Terms and Instruments”, November 1988. Supported, in part, by 5T32 MH 14235, Research Training in Mental Health Epidemiology.


This paper examines the concept of traumatic stress within the broad domain of current stress and health research. The unique nature of “trauma” is rejected because a) clear defining criteria for a unique stimulus condition do not exist, and b) studies of special outcomes, such as PTSD, can be done without postulating a unique stimulus condition. Instead, an integration of the different areas of stress research is advocated. The paper offers methodological recommendations about measurement, which are offered within a framework that emphasizes assessments of objective dimensions of stressful exposures.