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Longitudinal relationships between posttraumatic stress symptoms and sleep problems in adolescent survivors following the Wenchuan earthquake in China

Xiao Zhou, Xinchun Wu, Yuanyuan An, Fang Fu
PloS One 2014, 9 (8): e104470
25105288

PURPOSE: To examine the longitudinal relationships between Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and sleep problems among adolescent survivors in the Wenchuan earthquake, China.

METHODS: 350 adolescent survivors were randomly selected from several primary and secondary schools in the counties of Wenchuan and Maoxian, the two areas most severely affected by the Wenchuan earthquake. Participants completed Revised Child PTSD Symptom Scale and Sleep Problems Subscale of Self-generated Child Behavior Problems Questionnaire at one year (T1), one-and-a-half years (T2), two years (T3) after the earthquake, respectively.

RESULTS: There was a bidirectional relationship between intrusive symptom clusters of PTSD and sleep problems from T1 to T2, and this relationship became non-significant from T2 to T3. There was a one-way predictive relationship of avoidance symptom clusters of PTSD onto sleep problems from T1 to T3. The hyperarousal symptom clusters of PTSD had effects on sleep problems from T1 to T2 but not from T2 to T3, while sleep problems have no significant effect on hyperarousal symptom clusters of PTSD from T1 to T3. In addition, the relationships between three symptom clusters of PTSD and sleep problems weakened with time change.

CONCLUSIONS: From 1 year to 1.5 years after the earthquake, all the three symptom clusters of PTSD could be important predictive factors for the development and maintenance of sleep problems, while sleep problems could only be risk factors for the intrusive symptom clusters of PTSD. From 1.5 years to 2 years, only the avoidance symptom clusters of PTSD were risk factors for sleep problems, and sleep problems had no significant effects on any symptom clusters of PTSD. Overall, the relationship between PTSD and sleep problems weakened with time change.

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