Capturing intrusive re-experiencing in trauma survivors' daily lives using ecological momentary assessment.
Kleim B., Graham B., Bryant RA., Ehlers A.
Intrusive memories are common following traumatic events and among the hallmark symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most studies assess summarized accounts of intrusions retrospectively. We used an ecological momentary approach and index intrusive memories in trauma survivors with and without PTSD using electronic diaries. Forty-six trauma survivors completed daily diaries for 7 consecutive days recording a total of 294 intrusions. Participants with PTSD experienced only marginally more intrusions than those without PTSD, but experienced them with more "here and now quality," and responded with more fear, helplessness, anger, and shame than those without PTSD. Most frequent intrusion triggers were stimuli that were perceptually similar to stimuli from the trauma. Individuals with PTSD experienced diary-prompted voluntary trauma memories with the same sense of nowness and vividness as involuntary intrusive trauma memories. The findings contribute to a better understanding of everyday experiences of intrusive reexperiencing in trauma survivors with PTSD and offer clinical treatment implications.