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Posted On: <Date Posted>          Updated On: February 18, 2002
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

Acute Stress Disorder As a Predictor of 
Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms.

Classen C; Koopman C; Hales R; Spiegel D
American Journal of Psychiatry, 155(5):650-624, 1998.

Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: Using the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for acute stress disorder, the authors examined whether the acute psychological effects of being a bystander to violence involving mass shootings in an office building predicted later posttraumatic stress symptoms.

METHOD: The participants in this study were 36 employees working in an office building where a gunman shot 14 persons (eight fatally). The acute stress symptoms were assessed within 8 days of the event, and posttraumatic stress symptoms of 32 employees were assessed 7 to 10 months later.

RESULTS: According to the Stanford Acute Stress Reaction Questionnaire, 12 (33%) of the employees met criteria for the diagnosis of acute stress disorder. Acute stress symptoms were found to be an excellent predictor of the subjects' posttraumatic stress symptoms 7-10 months after the traumatic event.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest not only that being a bystander to violence is highly stressful in the short run, but that acute stress reactions to such an event further predict later posttraumatic stress symptoms.

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