Date of Award

Summer 2001

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This study examined coping devices and strategies commonly engaged in following traumatic injury. It assessed a community sample of 61 traumatically injured individuals to examine the relationship between ASD symptoms and religious and spiritual beliefs and practices and angry feelings. It also assessed victim variables that have been found in earlier studies to be predictors of ASD. Individual in-person interviews were privately conducted with hospitalized patients who had been injured in trauma-related accidents and had sustained injuries requiring the attention of trauma surgeons and not less than 2 days hospitalization. This study examined the data collected using the following measures administered as part of the initial in-person interview: Demographic data provided by participants regarding their ethnicity, age, and gender; psychiatric history, history of abuse, and previous traumas; Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE; Folstein, Folstein, & McHugh, 1975), a screen for cognitive impairment; Acute Stress Disorder Interview (ASDI; Bryant, Harvey, Dang, & Sackville, 1998), a clinical interview that contains 19 dichotomously scored items that relate to symptoms associated with ASD; Feeling Angry Subscale of STAXI-2(TM) that is one of three subscales of the State Anger scale of the State Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2(TM) (STAXI-2; Forgays, Spielberger, Ottaway, & Forgays, 1998); and the Spirituality and Religion Survey, a 21-item measure consisting of five subscales (Somlai et al., 1996). Results of this research indicated angry feelings and spiritual and religious beliefs, including prayer practices and punishment beliefs, accounted for 19% of the variance in ASD symptoms. Individuals who expressed conviction in a belief that injury results from divine retribution or sinful behavior and expressed more anger reported a greater number of ASD symptoms than participants who expressed lower levels of feeling angry and a weaker conviction in a belief that injury occurs as the result of divine retribution and/or punishment for sinful behavior. This study did not find better adjustment following traumatic injury to be associated with formal religion practices or spiritual beliefs. This study found PTSD symptoms following previous trauma exposure, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse history, and education were associated with ASD symptoms. This study's results show anger and religious beliefs involving punishment themes were associated with higher reported levels of ASD symptoms in response to a traumatic event. Therefore, these results do document the importance of considering angry feelings and particular religious and spiritual beliefs in assessing and perhaps enhancing an individual's coping responses following trauma.



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