Acute posttraumatic stress symptoms and depression after exposure to the 2005 Saskatchewan Centennial Air Show disaster: Prevalence and predictors

Steven Taylor, PhD, Gordon J.G. Asmundson, PhD, R. Nicholas Carleton, MA, Peter Brundin, MA


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of acute distress—that is, clinically significant posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and depression—and to identify predictors of each in a sample of people who witnessed a fatal aircraft collision at the 2005 Saskatchewan Centennial Air Show.
Design: Air Show attendees (N157) were recruited by advertisements in the local media and completed an Internet-administered battery of questionnaires.
Results: Based on previously established cut-offs, 22 percent respondents had clinically significant PTSS and 24 percent had clinically significant depressive symptoms. Clinically significant symptoms were associated with posttrauma impairment in social and occupational functioning. Acute distress was associated with several variables, including aspects of Air Show trauma exposure, severity of prior trauma exposure, low posttrauma social support (ie, negative responses by others), indices of poor coping (eg, intolerance of uncertainty, rumination about the trauma), and elevated scores on anxiety sensitivity, the personality trait of absorption, and dissociative tendencies.
Conclusions: Results suggest that clinically significant acute distress is common in the aftermath of witnessed trauma. The statistical predictors (correlates) of acute distress were generally consistent with the results of studies of other forms of trauma. People with elevated scores on theoretical vulnerability factors (eg, elevated anxiety sensitivity) were particularly likely to develop acute distress.


Saskatchewan Air Show Disaster, posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety sensitivity, acute stress, social support.

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