Direct and vicarious trauma and beliefs as predictors of PTSD
Spellmann, Mark E.
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The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of pretrauma, trauma, and posttrauma variables in predicting the development of PTSD symptoms. Subjects were former employees of a large national magazine sales organization that systematically abuses and defrauds its employees. Fifty former sales agents in the door-to-door magazine subscription sales industry were interviewed. Demographics, precrew social support, traumatic crew experiences, postcrew social support, and postcrew belief system variables were assessed. Traumatic crew experiences assessed included direct physical and sexual abuse, verbal abuse, exposure to dangerous conditions, and vicarious abuse, i.e., witnessing or knowing of abuse that happened to others.;Hierarchical multiple regression revealed that crew experiences and belief systems as measured by the World Assumption Scale (WAS) were significant predictors of PTSD symptoms as measured by the Impact of Events Scales (IES) and the PTSD symptom checklist. However, belief system measures were not related to traumatic experiences measures. Current social support did not yield a significant main effect for PTSD, though interactions between direct and vicarious trauma and social support showed a trend toward significance consistent with the predictions of the Buffering Hypothesis (Cohen and Wills, 1985).;Further multiple regression analyses revealed that vicarious trauma; i.e., witnessing or being aware of physical, verbal, or sexual assaults on others, or knowing of others being exposed to dangerous conditions, was as traumatic as directly experienced abuse. The effects of verbal abuse were also found to be commensurate with physical abuse.