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There is preliminary evidence that enhanced priming for trauma-related cues plays a role in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A prospective study of 119 motor vehicle accident survivors investigated whether priming for trauma-related stimuli predicts PTSD. Participants completed a modified word-stem completion test comprising accident-related, traffic-related, general threat, and neutral words at 2 weeks post-trauma. Priming for accident-related words predicted PTSD at 6 months follow-up, even when initial symptom levels of PTSD and depression and priming for other words were controlled. The results are in line with the hypothesis that enhanced priming for traumatic material contributes to the development of chronic PTSD.

Original publication




Journal article


J Abnorm Psychol

Publication Date





234 - 239


Accidents, Traffic, Acoustic Stimulation, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Cues, Female, Humans, Male, Memory, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests, Predictive Value of Tests, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic, Surveys and Questionnaires, Survivors