A longitudinal study of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and its relationship with coping skill and locus of control in adolescents after an earthquake in China

Weiqing Zhang, Hui Liu, Xiaolian Jiang, Dongmei Wu, Yali Tian
PloS One 2014, 9 (2): e88263

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common psychological maladaptation among adolescents after undergoing an earthquake. Knowledge about the prevalence and maintenance of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and the changes of its predictors over time can help medical providers assist adolescent survivors with mitigating long-term impacts. This study examined the changes in posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and its relationship with coping skill and locus of control among adolescent earthquake survivors in China.

METHODOLOGY/FINDINGS: The study used an observational longitudinal design. A total of 1420 adolescents were evaluated twice after the earthquake by using the Post-traumatic stress disorder Checklist-Civilian Version, The Internality, Powerful others and Chance scale and the Coping Styles Scale. The results indicated that the mean scores of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms were decreased significantly and the positive rates of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms also declined remarkably at 17 months compared to the 3 months post-earthquake. Internality locus of control and problem solving coping skill were effective resilient factors for the development and maintenance of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, while chance locus of control was a powerful risk factor of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms as well as being female, being injured and property loss.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Continuous screening is recommended to identify adolescent earthquake survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. More attention should be paid to adolescent survivors who are prone to adopt passive coping strategies responding to trauma events and who own external causal attribution.

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