Cognitive Coping: The Psychological Significance of Knowing What Happened in the Traumatic Event

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Abstract

The longitudinal relationships between aspects of cognitive coping and psychological symptoms in a group of 36 adults were examined 1, 3, and 5 years after a fatal school bus accident in Norway in 1988. The need for information about what happened in the accident was unrelated to symptoms during the period when the parents' search for facts was dominant, indicating that this is part of a normal adjustment process. However, persistent need for information after factual information had been provided was associated with poorer adjustment. People who felt they were adequately informed and who viewed the accident as a random incident showed better psychological adjustment.

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