Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Changes in affect after completing a mailed survey about trauma: two pre- and post-test studies in former disability applicants for posttraumatic stress disorder.

Murdoch M, Kehle-Forbes SM, Partin MR. Changes in affect after completing a mailed survey about trauma: two pre- and post-test studies in former disability applicants for posttraumatic stress disorder. BMC medical research methodology. 2017 May 10; 17(1):81.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information vaww.hsrd.research.va.gov/dimensions/

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions



Abstract:

BACKGROUND: One potential concern with using mailed surveys containing trauma-related content is the possibility of re-traumatizing survivors without a trained mental health professional present. Prior research provides insufficient guidance regarding the prevalence and magnitude of this risk because the psychological harms of trauma-related surveys have typically been estimated using single post-test observations. Post-test observations cannot quantify magnitude of change in participants'' emotional states and may over or under estimate associations between participants'' characteristics (risk factors) and post-survey upset. METHODS: We conducted two pre- and post-test studies in samples of former applicants for posttraumatic stress disorder disability benefits: 191 males who served during Gulf War I plus 639 male and 921 female Veterans who served sometime between 1955 and 1998. We used two 9-point items from the Self-Assessment Manikins to measure participants'' valence (sadness/happiness) and arousal (tenseness/calmness) before and after they completed mailed surveys asking about trauma-related symptoms or experiences. We examined the following potential predictors for post-survey sadness and tenseness: screening positive for posttraumatic stress disorder, having a serious mental illness, and history of military sexual assault or combat. RESULTS: After the survey, across the groups, 29.3-41.8% were sadder, 45.3-52.2% had no change in valence, and 12.9-22.5% were happier; 31.7-40.2% were tenser, 40.6-48.2% had no change in arousal, and 17.3-24.0% were calmer. The mean increase in sadness or tenseness post-survey was less than one point in all groups (SD''s? < 1.7). Cohen''s d ranged from 0.07 to 0.30. Most hypothesized predictors were associated with greater baseline sadness or tenseness, but not necessarily with larger post-survey changes. Women with a history of military sexual assault had the largest net post-survey changes in sadness (mean? = 0.7, SD? = 1.4) and tenseness (mean? = 0.6, SD? = 1.6). CONCLUSION: While a substantial minority of Veterans reported more sadness or tenseness post-survey, the net change in affect was small. Most hypothesized risk factors were actually associated with higher baseline sadness or tenseness scores. When receiving unsolicited, trauma-related surveys by mail, separate protections for Veterans with the risk factors studied here do not seem necessary.





Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team.

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.