Associations Between Executive Functions and Long-Term Stress Reactions After Extreme Trauma: A Two-Year Follow-Up of the Utøya Survivors

Terror attacks cause variation in everyday functioning across several domains.

Abstract

This paper focuses on the individual long-term costs in terms of clinical symptoms and cognitive (e.g., shifting, inhibition, and spatial working memory) difficulties associated with these symptoms in 24 survivors of a terror attack in Norway. Another 24 controls were included for comparison purposes. Participants were administered a battery of clinical and neurocognitive tests. Results showed that all clinical variables differed as a function of group, ps ≤ .001, η2 ≥ .64, but no significant differences were revealed for the neurocognitive measures. In the survivor group, shifting capacity and its interaction with gender predicted intrusion symptoms, p = .045, ηp2 = .338, and symptoms of avoidance, p = .008, ηp2 = .453. We discuss the findings in relation to theoretical models and therapeutic interventions.

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 2015, doi.org/10.1037/tra0000048

Published Aug. 24, 2015 7:00 AM - Last modified June 28, 2017 3:08 PM