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Early Linguistic Markers of Trauma-Specific Processing Predict Post-trauma Adjustment


Kleim, Birgit; Horn, Andrea B; Kraehenmann, Rainer; Mehl, Matthias R; Ehlers, Anke (2018). Early Linguistic Markers of Trauma-Specific Processing Predict Post-trauma Adjustment. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9:645.

Abstract

Identifying early predictors for psychiatric disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is crucial for effective treatment and prevention efforts. Obtaining such predictors is challenging and methodologically limited, for example by individuals' distress, arousal, and reduced introspective ability. We investigated the predictive power of language-based, implicit markers of psychological processes (N = 163) derived from computerized text-analysis of trauma and control narratives provided within 18 days post-trauma. Trauma narratives with fewer cognitive processing words (indicating less cognitive elaboration), more death-related words (indicating perceived threat to life), and more first-person singular pronouns (indicating self-immersed processing) predicted greater PTSD symptoms at 6 months. These effects were specific to trauma narratives and held after controlling for early PTSD symptom severity and verbal intelligence. When self-report questionnaires of related processes were considered together with the trauma narrative linguistic predictors, use of more first-person singular pronouns remained a significant predictor alongside self-reported mental defeat. Language-based processing markers may complement questionnaire measures in early forecasting of post-trauma adjustment.

Abstract

Identifying early predictors for psychiatric disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is crucial for effective treatment and prevention efforts. Obtaining such predictors is challenging and methodologically limited, for example by individuals' distress, arousal, and reduced introspective ability. We investigated the predictive power of language-based, implicit markers of psychological processes (N = 163) derived from computerized text-analysis of trauma and control narratives provided within 18 days post-trauma. Trauma narratives with fewer cognitive processing words (indicating less cognitive elaboration), more death-related words (indicating perceived threat to life), and more first-person singular pronouns (indicating self-immersed processing) predicted greater PTSD symptoms at 6 months. These effects were specific to trauma narratives and held after controlling for early PTSD symptom severity and verbal intelligence. When self-report questionnaires of related processes were considered together with the trauma narrative linguistic predictors, use of more first-person singular pronouns remained a significant predictor alongside self-reported mental defeat. Language-based processing markers may complement questionnaire measures in early forecasting of post-trauma adjustment.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:19 Dec 2018 14:27
Last Modified:19 Dec 2018 14:29
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-0640
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00645
Project Information:
  • : FunderPsychiatry Research Trust and the Wellcome Trust
  • : Grant ID069777
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPZ00P1_126597
  • : Project TitlePsychological and Biological Mechanisms of Stress Resilience
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPZ00P1_150812
  • : Project TitlePsychological and biological mechanisms of stress resilience
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPMPDP1_164470
  • : Project TitleCo-sensing of couples’ adjustment to a life transition in daily life: A comparison of interpersonal emotion regulation in couples with and without depression risk

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