Post- and peritraumatic stress in disaster survivo...

Background: Examination of existing research on posttraumatic adjustment after disasters suggests that survivors’ posttraumatic stress levels might be better understood by investigating the influence of the characteristics of the event experienced on how people thought and felt, during the event as well as afterwards.
Objective: To compare survivors’ perceived post- and peritraumatic emotional and cognitive reactions across different types of disasters. Additionally, to investigate individual and event characteristics.
Design: In a European multi-centre study, 102 survivors of different disasters terror attack, flood, fire and collapse of a building were interviewed about their responses during the event. Survivors’ perceived posttraumatic stress levels were assessed with the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R). Peritraumatic emotional stress and risk perception were rated retrospectively. Influences of individual characteristics, such as socio-demographic data, and event characteristics, such as time and exposure factors, on post- and peritraumatic outcomes were analyzed.
Results: Levels of reported post- and peritraumatic outcomes differed significantly between types of disasters. Type of disaster was a significant predictor of all three outcome variables but the factors gender, education, time since event, injuries and fatalities were only significant for certain outcomes.
Conclusion: Results support the hypothesis that there are differences in perceived post- and peritraumatic emotional and cognitive reactions after experiencing different types of disasters. However, it should be noted that these findings were not only explained by the type of disaster itself but also by individual and event characteristics. As the study followed an explorative approach, further research paths are discussed to better understand the relationships between variables. 

Grimm, A., Hulse, L., Preiss, M., & Schmidt, S. (2012). Post- and peritraumatic stress in disaster survivors: an explorative study about the influence of individual and event characteristics across different types of disasters. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 3, 72-83. doi: 10.3402/ejpt.v3i0.7382