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01.12.2012 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 1/2012

World assumptions, posttraumatic stress and quality of life after a natural disaster: A longitudinal study

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes > Ausgabe 1/2012
Egil Nygaard, Trond Heir
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

EN performed the literature review, conducted the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript. TH conceived the study and its design and contributed to the manuscript. Both authors have read and approved the final manuscript.



Changes in world assumptions are a fundamental concept within theories that explain posttraumatic stress disorder. The objective of the present study was to gain a greater understanding of how changes in world assumptions are related to quality of life and posttraumatic stress symptoms after a natural disaster.


A longitudinal study of 574 Norwegian adults who survived the Southeast Asian tsunami in 2004 was undertaken. Multilevel analyses were used to identify which factors at six months post-tsunami predicted quality of life and posttraumatic stress symptoms two years post-tsunami.


Good quality of life and posttraumatic stress symptoms were negatively related. However, major differences in the predictors of these outcomes were found. Females reported significantly higher quality of life and more posttraumatic stress than men. The association between level of exposure to the tsunami and quality of life seemed to be mediated by posttraumatic stress. Negative perceived changes in the assumption “the world is just” were related to adverse outcome in both quality of life and posttraumatic stress. Positive perceived changes in the assumptions “life is meaningful” and “feeling that I am a valuable human” were associated with higher levels of quality of life but not with posttraumatic stress.


Quality of life and posttraumatic stress symptoms demonstrate differences in their etiology. World assumptions may be less specifically related to posttraumatic stress than has been postulated in some cognitive theories.
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