HYPERREACTIVITY IN PTSD AND SUBCLINICAL GROUPS EXPOSED TO MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS
 
Clear, S., Haines, J. and Williams, C.L., University of Tasmania, Australia
 
The aim of this study was to examine the nature of the hyperarousal associated with the experience of a traumatic event to determine whether that hyperarousal is evident only in relation to trauma-related cues or whether it is a generalised response. Secondly, the aim was to determine whether the hyperarousal that is evident in response to exposure to trauma is experienced only by individuals with PTSD or whether it is apparent in individuals who have been exposed to a traumatic motor vehicle accident (MVA) but who have not developed PTSD. Psychophysiological and psychological responses to the traumatic MVA, a pre-accident event (minor MVA or stressful life event), and a post-accident event (minor MVA or stressful life event) were assessed using a staged, personalised guided imagery methodology. Differential patterns of response were demonstrated for the PTSD and subclinical groups in relation to the trauma-related and generalised response stimuli. The use of this methodology as an assessment tool and the implications of the results in the identification and management of hyperarousal following exposure to traumatic events are considered.