Death anxiety as a predictor of posttraumatic stress levels among individuals with spinal cord injuries

Death Stud. 2004 Jan;28(1):1-17. doi: 10.1080/07481180490249201.


Because the onset of a spinal cord injury may involve a brush with death and because serious injury and disability can act as a reminder of death, death anxiety was examined as a predictor of posttraumatic stress levels among individuals with disabilities. This cross-sectional study used multiple regression and multivariate multiple regression to examine whether death denial and death awareness predicted posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans and civilians with spinal cord injuries (N = 313). The results indicated that death anxiety (after controlling for demographic and disability-related variables) predicted a significant amount of the total levels of posttraumatic stress reactions among individuals with spinal cord injuries. Further, death awareness, pain level, and spiritual/religious coping significantly predicted the posttraumatic stress clusters of reexperiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal. Death denial significantly predicted only hyperarousal. Because death anxiety predicts various aspects of PTSD reactions, one possible therapeutic implication is that addressing death-related topics may help to reduce PTSD reactions. Further research is needed to better ascertain the possible causality among these variables.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology
  • Fear / psychology
  • Humans
  • Phobic Disorders
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology*
  • Spirituality
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • United States
  • Veterans