Maladaptive self-appraisals before trauma exposure predict posttraumatic stress disorder

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2007 Oct;75(5):812-5. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.75.5.812.


This study tested the proposal that negative appraisals represent a risk factor for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after trauma. Trainee firefighters (N = 68) were assessed during training (before trauma exposure) for PTSD, history of traumatic events, and tendency to engage in negative appraisals. Firefighters were reassessed 4 years later (N = 52), after commencing firefighter duty (after trauma exposure), for PTSD and depression using the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Scale (E. B. Foa, L. Cashman, L. Jaycox, & K. Perry, 1997) and the Beck Depression Inventory (Version 2; A. T. Beck, R. A. Steer, & G. K. Brown, 1996). At follow-up, 12% met criteria for PTSD. Pretrauma negative appraisals about oneself accounted for 20% of variance in PTSD severity at follow-up. These data provide the first evidence that preexisting negative appraisals are a risk factor for PTSD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Fires
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • New South Wales
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*