Description: The present study examined the relationship between coping and psychological and psychosomatic distress of 25 individuals who experienced the same severe, acute traumatic event: the violent shooting that killed 23 people and severely injured 20 more in Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, on October 16, 1991. Distress was assessed by one-month pre-event and post-event scores on the SCL-90R, Psychosomatic Questionnaire, and by a Life Event Questionnaire score for the year before the incident. Coping was measured by a modified version of the Ways of Coping Scale (Folkman et al., 1986) and Response Style Questionnaire (Nolen-Hoeksema & Morrow, 1991). All post-event distress scores, except the Psychosomatic score, significantly increased over their corresponding pre-event scores regardless of gender. Although female distress scores were consistently higher than male scores, gender was predictive of post-event distress only for the SCL-90R Anxiety, Somatization, and Global Severity Index scales. The only pre-event score found to be predictive of post-event distress was the Psychosomatic scale. Regression analysis, with demographic and pre-event variables controlled, found a significant positive relationship between Escape/Avoidance coping and one-month post-event levels of Anxiety and Psychosomatic distress. Findings were discussed in the context of the process-oriented stress-illness model and were compared to current disaster and crime victimization literature. Implications for helping professionals, methodological issues, and implications for future research were explored.
Date: August 1994
Creator: Forté, Beverly K.