Longitudinal changes in recalled perceived life threat after a natural disaster

Trond Heir, Auran Piatigorsky, Lars Weisæth
2009 British Journal of Psychiatry  
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis often depends on a retrospective, self-report of exposure to a life-threatening event. Aims To examine the stability of recalled perceived life threat in a community sample exposed to a distinct stressful event. Method Five hundred and thirty-two Norwegian citizens who experienced the 2004 South-East Asia tsunami completed a self-report questionnaire 6 and 24 months post-disaster. The questionnaire measured perceived life-threat intensity,
more » ... , immediate stress response, psychopathology, personality dimensions, self-efficacy and social support. Results Recalled threat intensity increased from 6 to 24 months (P <0.001). Recall amplification was associated with lack of PTSD symptom improvement (P < 0.05), but not with degree of exposure, immediate stress response, mood or stress symptoms, personality, self-efficacy or social support. Conclusions Recall amplification of perceived life threat from a single stressful event occurs in the general population, it may hinder PTSD symptom improvement and it questions the diagnostic validity of PTSD.
doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.108.056580 pmid:19478289 fatcat:qqdavi5p7jb6vbgucv7ew7cxce