Acute psychological reactions in assault victims of non-domestic violence: peritraumatic dissociation, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression

Nord J Psychiatry. 2006;60(6):452-62. doi: 10.1080/08039480601021886.


The aims of this study were to investigate acute and subacute post-traumatic reactions in victims of physical non-domestic violence. A Norwegian sample of 138 physically assaulted victims was interviewed and a questionnaire was completed. The following areas were examined: the frequency and intensity of acute and subacute psychological reactions such as peritraumatic dissociation (PD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety and depression; the relationship between several psychological reactions; the relationship between psychological reactions and level of physical injury, perceived life threat, and potential of severe physical injury, and the relationship between psychological reactions and socio-demographic variables. The following distress reactions were measured retrospectively: PD, PTSD, and anxiety and depression. Thirty-three per cent of the victims scored as probable PTSD cases according to the Post Traumatic Symptoms Scale 10 (PTSS-10); the corresponding Impact of Event Scale-15 (IES-15) score identified prevalence of 34% respectively. Forty-four per cent scored as cases with probable anxiety and depression, according to the Hopkins Symptom Check List 25 (HSCL-25). Severity of perceived threat predicted higher scores on all measures of psychological reactions. There were no statistically significant differences between acute and subacute groups on PD, PTSS-10, IES-15, IES-22 and HSCL-25 according to measured means (and standard deviations) and occurrence of probable cases and risk level cases. The results showed no connection between severity of physical injury and caseness. The acute psychological impairment that results from assault violence may have a deleterious effect on the mental health of victims.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology*
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / etiology*
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Dissociative Disorders / etiology*
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*