A Longitudinal Study of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and their Predictors in Rescue Workers after a Firework Factory Disaster
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Introduction: This is a follow up study on rescue workers participating in the primary rescue during and immediately after the explosion of a firework factory. We aimed to estimate the possible PTSD prevalence at five and 18 months post disaster, determining if the level of PTSD symptoms at 18 months could be predicted from factors measured at five months. Methods: we included measures of posttraumatic symptoms, social support, locus of control and demographic questions. Results: The possible PTSD prevalence rose from 1.6 % (n=465) at five months post disaster to 3.1% (n=130) at 18 months. A hierarchical linear regression predicted 59% of PTSD symptoms variance at 18 months post disaster. In the final regression, somatization explained the greatest part of the symptom variance (42%), followed by locus of control (29%) and major life events prior to and right after the disaster (23%). Conclusion: Rescue workers seemed to be relatively robust to traumatic exposure: The prevalence of possible PTSD in our study was even lower than previous studies, probably because of the less severe consequences of the disaster studied. Furthermore, we found that PTSD symptom level at 18 months post disaster was highly predicted by psychological factors, particularly by somatization. However, further investigations of traumatic responding are required in this population.