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Personality Traits, Coping Style, and Perceived Threat as Predictors of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder After Exposure to a Terrorist Attack: A Prospective Study

Gil, Sharon PhD; Caspi, Yael ScD, MA

doi: 10.1097/01.psy.0000242124.21796.f8
Original Articles

Objectives: This prospective study examined the role of pretraumatic personality factors, coping style, proximity to a terrorist attack, and its perceived threat to the survivors in the prediction of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a suicide bomber's attack on a bus.

Method: The study sample consisted of 180 undergraduate students who were coincidentally evaluated 2 weeks before a terrorist explosion in a bus heading toward their university and reevaluated 1 week, 1 month, and 6 months after the explosion.

Results: A hierarchal regression model revealed that increased risk for PTSD was associated with direct exposure to the attack, indirect exposure to the attack, preattack harm avoidance personality dimension, state avoidance coping style, and perceived threat posed by the attack.

Conclusions: The findings indicate that premorbid personality characteristics, as well as subjective and objective factors related to the traumatic exposure, increased the risk for the development of PTSD.

ANOVA = analysis of variance; CI = confidence interval; COPE = Multidimensional Coping Inventory; DSM = Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; HA = harm avoidance; MANOVA = multivariate analysis of variance; NS = novelty-seeking; OR = odd ratio; PTSD = posttraumatic stress disorder; PTSS = posttraumatic stress symptoms; RD = reward dependence; SCID = Structured Clinical Interview for Axis I DSM-IV Disorders; TPQ = Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire.

From the School of Social Work, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Studies, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Sharon Gil, PhD, School of Social Work, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Studies, University of Haifa, Israel 31905. E-mail: gsharon@research.haifa.ac.il

Received for publication February 3, 2006; revision received June 25, 2006.

Copyright © 2006 by American Psychosomatic Society
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