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Contents & Abstracts
Volume 1997/1

Australasian Journal of Disaster and
Trauma Studies

Editorial by Douglas Paton
Disaster and Trauma Studies: Developing an Australasian Perspective.

Kevin R. Ronan : The Effects of a "Benign" Disaster: Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress in Children Following a Series of Volcanic Eruptions.

Keywords: Volcanic eruptions, childhood post-traumatic stress, self reported symptom clusters

Examined self-reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress in 118 children following a series of volcanic eruptions. A significant number of children reported symptoms that met criteria for the following symptom clusters: reexperiencing (65%), hyperarousal (24%), and psychic numbing/avoidance (14%). Additionally, 11% of the children reported symptoms that met criteria for all three of the clusters. In terms of the mediating effects of gender, age, and asthma, generally no differences were found in symptom endorsement with the exception of younger and asthmatic children reporting a greater frequency of hyperarousal symptoms. Anxiety and depression levels of children who met criteria for all three symptom clusters were found to be at clinically significant levels. Results are compared with findings from a study that looked at some of these issues following a more acute and more catastrophic disaster (Hurricane Andrew). The use of the current methodology in screening large samples of children and in school-based interventions following a natural disaster is discussed.

Link to full paper

Christine V. Stephens : Debriefing, Social Support and PTSD in the New Zealand Police: Testing a multidimensional model of organisational traumatic stress.

Keywords: Police social support, trauma, PTSD, recovery environment, debriefing

Organisations whose workers risk traumatic exposure, are increasingly interested in preventing sequelae such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A common intervention is the provision of psychological debriefing following trauma. In accordance with recent criticisms of this approach, Harvey (1996) has proposed a multidimensional model of trauma recovery. The present study tested some of the person, event and environmental variables in the model with 527 New Zealand police officers who responded to a questionnaire survey of trauma and social support at work. The results showed no differences in PTSD symptoms between officers who had and those who had not been debriefed. However, greater social support and opportunities to talk about traumatic experiences and their emotional impact, with others in the work place, were shown to be related to fewer PTSD symptoms. The findings support current suggestions that organisational post-trauma interventions should be developed take into account social environmental factors and recovery needs over time.
Link to full paper

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