PREDICTORS OF POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS IN CIVILIANS 1 YEAR AFTER AIR ATTACKS: A STUDY OF YUGOSLAVIAN STUDENTS


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Abstract

The level of posttraumatic stress, other psychological symptoms, and potential predictors were assessed in 139 medical students 1 year after experiencing air attacks in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Eleven percent of the students showed high levels of posttraumatic stress (scores > 34) on the Impact of Event Scale; lower degrees of intrusion symptoms were reported by 32% of the students and avoidance symptoms were reported by 45%. Although gender, distress during previous stressful events, and exposure to trauma during the attacks were all of some predictive value, distress during the attacks was the best predictor for symptoms. This association remained significant when the influence of other psychological symptoms was controlled. The type of previous stressful events interacted with the degree of exposure to trauma during the attacks in predicting avoidance symptoms, but not intrusion symptoms. The findings suggest that predictors for high and low thresholds of symptoms may be similar. The quality of previous stressful events can modify the response to subsequent trauma.

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