Life Stressors Predict PTSD Symptoms Following a Traumatic Injury

Aime Skrober “Life Stressors Predict PTSD Symptoms Following a Traumatic Injury”
Mentors: Christine Larson, Elisabeth Webb & Jayson Schalk, Psychology

Previous research has shown that life stressors may contribute to the risk of developing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after a traumatic experience. However, the relationship between specific life stressors and PTSD symptom severity remains largely unknown. In the present study, we investigated whether specific trauma-unrelated life stressors predicted PTSD symptom severity 6 months after a traumatic injury. Trauma-exposed participants (N = 232) were recruited for the study from an emergency department. Participants were administered a battery of self-report measures and cognitive tasks 2-weeks and 6-months post-trauma. Financial, career, housing, legal, and relationship life stressors were assessed using the Crisis in Family Systems survey. A multiple regression analysis was used to investigate the relationship between the various trauma-unrelated life stressors and PTSD symptom severity. After controlling for demographic variables (i.e. gender and age), greater exposure to financial and career stressors were significantly predictive of PTSD symptom severity 6 months post-trauma (p < 0.05). However, housing, legal and relationship stressors were not predictive of PTSD 6 months post-trauma. These findings add to the growing body of literature suggesting life stressors may have a significant impact on the development of PTSD symptom severity. Our results suggest exposure to financial and career stressors, but not other life stressors, are significantly predictive of PTSD development after a traumatic injury. The source of financial and career stressors may be related to the socioeconomic position of participants. This study suggests trauma-unrelated life stressors should be considered in the treatment of PTSD.


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