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An analogue study of traumatic intrusions Laposa, Judith Megan

Abstract

According to cognitive theorists, intrusive memories of traumatic events have their origin in how information during the event is processed. In order to investigate functional cognitive strategies during medical crises, two studies were conducted. The first study consisted of interviews with 20 health care professionals. Results from the interviews highlighted the use of strategies designed to maintain a medical orientation towards the event. Placing such strategies in the context of cognitive theories of peritraumatic processing, an experimental study using the distressing film paradigm was conducted with 68 psychology and 68 nursing undergraduates. The study examined the effect of adopting a medical cognitive strategy on intrusion development, memory disorganization, and anxiety. The results suggested that it was possible to manipulate a functional cognitive strategy. Participants in the experimental condition reported fewer intrusions than those in the control group. The manipulation did not affect memory disorganization or anxiety, and psychology and nursing students were comparable on all dependant variables. Discussion focuses on implications for cognitive theories of intrusion development.

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