Trauma-related appraisals and coping styles of injured adults with and without symptoms of PTSD and their relationship to work potential

Lynda R Matthews, Lynne M Harris, Steven Cumming
Disability and Rehabilitation 2009, 31 (19): 1577-83

PURPOSE: This study aimed to document the self-reported trauma-related appraisals and coping strategies of injured workers with and without symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to explore relationships between these cognitive variables and work potential.

METHOD: Sixty-nine (55% males) respondents previously admitted to a teaching hospital following accidental injury completed a self-report survey which included measures for PTSD, trauma-related appraisals, coping strategies and work potential approximately 8 months post-accident.

RESULTS: Nineteen percent of the sample reported symptoms consistent with a PTSD diagnosis, and these participants reported more negative appraisals about the self and the world, greater use of avoidant coping and poorer work outcomes than those without clinically significant PTSD symptoms. After partialing out the influence of PTSD symptom severity, active cognitive coping was associated with increased work potential and negative appraisals of the world was associated with reduced work potential.

CONCLUSIONS: Trauma-related appraisals and coping strategies are associated with work potential following accidental injury. Although the role of negative appraisals in the maintenance of PTSD is well documented, this study identified negative appraisals of the world as being associated with work potential after controlling for PTSD symptoms. Reducing negative appraisals of the world and increasing active coping may influence work potential, however, longitudinal studies that substantiate the direction of the associations are required.

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