Psychology ETDs

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The transactional model of stress and coping (Lazarus and Folkman, 1984) and the cognitive model of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD; Ehlers and Clark, 2000) both emphasize the importance of appraisal in understanding the person by environment interaction. However, very few studies have examined Lazarus and Folkmans (1984) challenge and threat appraisals as they relate to PTSD. The current research studied the relationships between PTSD, situation-specific appraisal, and state coping among 124 firefighters presented with a chemical spill disaster scenario. Challenge appraisal was related to problem-focused coping whereas threat appraisal was strongly related to avoidant coping. As part of an exploratory aim, challenge appraisal was found to demonstrate a stronger relationship with pre-reflective coping whereas threat appraisal was related to reflective coping. Hypothesized relationships between PTSD symptom severity level and appraisal and coping were not found. However, threat appraisal did mediate the relationship between functional impairment from PTSD symptoms and avoidant coping in a post hoc mediation model. Discussion focuses on the potential role of enactive appraisal in stress and coping research and the implications of appraisal for understanding PTSD symptomatology.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Witherington, David

Second Committee Member

Venner, Kamilla




Post-traumatic stress disorder, Fire fighters--Job stress, Fire fighters--Job stress.

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