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BACKGROUND: Some studies suggest that early psychological treatment is effective in preventing chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but it is as yet unclear how best to identify trauma survivors who need such intervention. This prospective longitudinal study investigated the prognostic validity of acute stress disorder (ASD), of variables derived from a meta-analysis of risk factors for PTSD, and of candidate cognitive and biological variables in predicting chronic PTSD following assault. METHOD: Assault survivors who had been treated for their injuries at a metropolitan Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department were assessed with structured clinical interviews to establish diagnoses of ASD at 2 weeks (n=222) and PTSD at 6 months (n=205) after the assault. Candidate predictors were assessed at 2 weeks. RESULTS: Most predictors significantly predicted PTSD status at follow-up. Multivariate logistic regressions showed that a set of four theory-derived cognitive variables predicted PTSD best (Nagelkerke R2=0.50), followed by the variables from the meta-analysis (Nagelkerke R2=0.37) and ASD (Nagelkerke R2=0.25). When all predictors were considered simultaneously, mental defeat, rumination and prior problems with anxiety or depression were chosen as the best combination of predictors (Nagelkerke R2=0.47). CONCLUSION: Questionnaires measuring mental defeat, rumination and pre-trauma psychological problems may help to identify assault survivors at risk of chronic PTSD.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Med

Publication Date





1457 - 1467


Adult, Chronic Disease, Demography, Emergency Medical Services, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Predictive Value of Tests, Prospective Studies, Psychological Tests, Severity of Illness Index, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic, Surveys and Questionnaires, Survivors, Violence, Wounds and Injuries