This study evaluated the properties of Swedish versions of self-report measures of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with emphasis on the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R). Survey data from adult survivors 1, 3, and 6 years after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami (n=1506) included the IES-R (from which the IES-6 was derived) and the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). The PTSD Checklist (PCL) was included in one survey. A structured clinical interview was performed after 6 years (n=142). Factor analyses of the IES-R and PCL indicated that a dysphoric-arousal model provided good fit invariant across assessments. Both measures were accurate in excluding PTSD while all measures provided poorer positive predictive values. The IES-R, but not the IES-6 and GHQ-12, evidenced stability across assessments. In conclusion, the Swedish IES-R and PCL are sound measures of chronic PTSD, and the findings illustrate important temporal aspects of PTSD assessment.
The characteristics of long-term trajectories of distress after disasters are unclear, since few studies include a comparison group. This study examines trajectories of recovery among survivors in comparison to individuals with indirect exposure.
Postal surveys were sent to Swedish tourists, repatriated from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami (n=2268), at 1, 3, and 6 years after the tsunami to assess posttraumatic stress (PTS) and poor mental health. Items were used to ascertain high and moderate disaster exposure groups and an indirect exposure comparison group.
Long-term PTS trajectories were best characterized by a resilient (72.3%), a severe chronic (4.6%), a moderate chronic (11.2%) and a recovering (11.9%) trajectory. Trajectories reported higher levels of PTS than the comparison group. Exposure severity and bereavement were highly influential risk factors.
These findings have implications regarding anticipation of long-term psychological adjustment after natural disasters and need for interventions after a single traumatic event with few secondary stressors.
Social support buffers the negative impact of stressful events. Less, however, is known about the characteristics of this association in the context of disaster and findings have been discrepant regarding direct and buffering effects. This study tested whether the protective effects of social support differed across levels of exposure severity (i.e., buffered distress) and assessed whether the buffering effect differed between event-specific and general distress. Participants were 4,600 adult Swedish tourists (44% of invited; 55% women) repatriated within 3 weeks after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. A survey 14 months after the disaster included the Crisis Support Scale, the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Social support buffered the negative impact of exposure on both outcomes. The support and distress association ranged from very small in participants with low exposure to moderate in those with high exposure (?(p)(2) = .004 to .053). The buffering effect was not found to differ between the IES-R and GHQ-12, F(2, 4589) = 0.87, p = .42. The findings suggest that social support moderates the stressor-distress relationship after disasters. This study might help explain discrepant findings and point to refinements of postdisaster interventions.
This prospective longitudinal study aimed to examine posttraumatic stress in survivors 14 years after a ferry disaster, and estimate short- and long-term changes in stress associated with traumatic bereavement and acute dissociation. There were 852 people who perished in the disaster, 137 survived. The 51 Swedish survivors were surveyed with the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) at 3 months, 1, 3, and 14 years (response rates 82%, 65%, 51%, and 69%). Symptoms decreased from 3 months to 1 year; no change was found thereafter. After 14 years, 27% reported significant symptoms. Traumatic bereavement, but not acute dissociation, was associated with long-term symptom elevation. Chronic posttraumatic stress can persist in a minority of survivors, and traumatic bereavement appears to hinder recovery.