Cognitive Appraisals and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in Informal Caregivers of Stroke Survivors

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Objective: To examine associations between cognitive appraisals (i.e., negative appraisals about the self, negative appraisals about the world, and self-blame) and the severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in informal caregivers (i.e., family relatives or close associates) of stroke survivors. Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted in which informal caregivers (N = 51) of recent stroke survivors completed the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale and the Posttraumatic Cognitions Inventory. Results: PTSD symptom severity correlated significantly with the Posttraumatic Cognitions Inventory Self, World, and Self-Blame subscales and with time since stroke and age (negative relationship). Cognitive appraisals explained 58% of the variance in PTSD symptom severity. Conclusion: The associations found between negative cognitive appraisals and the severity of PTSD symptoms are consistent with current cognitive models of PTSD and the recommended use of trauma-related cognitive–behavioral therapy for individuals with PTSD.

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