Author(s): Maercker A, Gbler I, ONeil J, Schtzwohl M, Mller M
Studies on the long-term consequences of traumatization found different diagnostic trajectories: chronic, recovered, delayed and resilient. This distinction, however, was never studied in victims of torture or severe political persecution. We aimed to verify the trajectory classes of PTSD empirically and to analyze potential predictors of such trajectories. Former political prisoners from East Germany, first interviewed in 1995, were re-assessed fourteen years later. In 1995, retrospective symptom reports dating back to shortly after the prisoners' release dates were assessed. Predictors of the four different trajectories were divided into pre-trauma, peri-trauma, and post-trauma factors. As a result, the four long-term trajectories were validated in the current sample with the following percentages: chronic (36%), resilient (27%), recovered (26%) and delayed (11%) trajectories. Trajectories were mainly distinguished by pre- and post-traumatic factors, e.g. pre-trauma education or post-trauma disclosure opportunities. We conclude that the four long-term trajectories of trauma sequelae deserve more attention to adequately deal with survivors of severe persecution. Furthermore, the specific predictors of long-term trajectory deserve more attention for re-integration or in rehabilitation.