The relationship between processing style, trauma memory processes, and the development of posttraumatic stress symptoms in children and adolescents

Anna McKinnon, Neil Brewer, Kate Cameron, Reginald Nixon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background and objectives Data-driven processing, peri-event fear, and trauma memory characteristics are hypothesised to play a core role in the development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. We assessed the relationships between these characteristics and Posttraumatic Stress (PTS) symptoms in a sample of youth. Methods Study 1 (N = 36, 7–16 years), involved a sample of children who had undergone a stressful orthopaedic procedure. One week later they answered a series of probed recall questions about the trauma (assessed for accuracy by comparison to a video) and reported on their PTS symptoms. They also rated confidence in their probed recall answers to assess meta-cognitive monitoring of their memory for the trauma. In Study 2, a sample of injured children (N = 57, 7–16 years) were assessed within 1-month of a visit to an Emergency Department, and then at 3-month follow-up. They answered probed recall questions, made confidence ratings, and completed measures of data-driven processing, peri-event fear, PTS and associated psychopathology. Memories were verified using witness accounts. Results Studies 1 and 2 did not find an association between PTS symptoms and trauma memory accuracy or confidence. In Studies 1 and 2 data-driven processing predicted PTS symptoms. Limitations The studies had modest samples sizes and there were ceiling effects for some accuracy and confidence items. Conclusions Data-driven processing at the time of a trauma was associated with PTS symptoms after accounting for fear at the time of the trauma. Accuracy of recall for trauma memories was not significantly related to PTS symptoms. No decisive conclusion could be drawn regarding the relation between confidence in trauma memories and PTS symptoms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-142
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
    Volume57
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

    Keywords

    • Autobiographical memory
    • Children
    • Data-driven processing
    • Meta-memory
    • Post-traumatic stress

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