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Insecure adult attachment style is associated with elevated psychological symptoms in early adjustment to severe burn: a cross-sectional study


Holt, R and Kornhaber, R and Kwiet, J and Rogers, V and Shaw, J and Law, J and Proctor, M-T and Vandervord, J and Streimer, J and Visentin, D and Cleary, M and McLean, L, Insecure adult attachment style is associated with elevated psychological symptoms in early adjustment to severe burn: a cross-sectional study, Burns, 45, (6) pp. 1359-1366. ISSN 0305-4179 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2019 Elsevier Ltd and ISBI. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.burns.2019.03.011


Research into recovery and adjustment after burn injury has indicated a link between psychopathological symptoms including traumatic stress, distress, depression and anxiety, and worse psychosocial and physical outcomes. The severity of psychological symptoms does not always correlate with that of the burn injury, and symptoms can be ongoing in certain patients for extensive periods, leading to a need for early screening in burns patients for psychological vulnerabilities. One potential factor influencing recovery from the psychological impact of burn injury is adult attachment style, specifically secure and insecure attachment, as this describes how an individual organizes their stress regulation. This cross-sectional study measured: (a) attachment style (via the Relationship Questionnaire [RQ]): (b) negative psychological symptoms (via the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale [DASS]); and, (c) post-traumatic symptoms (via the Davidson Trauma Scale [DTS]) in a cohort of burns patients (n = 104, 51 analysed) in a severe burns unit in Australia during the acute phase of their recovery. Secure attachment style was inversely related to psychopathological symptoms. Secure participants scored significantly lower scores on the DASS (M = 17.63, SD = 17.07) compared to self-rated insecure participants [(M = 42.38, SD = 34.69), p < .01] and on the DTS (M = 14.22, SD = 15.42) compared to insecure participants [(M = 40.54, SD = 35.72), p < .01]. Similar results were found in analyses controlling for covariates of gender, age and burn severity as potential confounders. This research suggests attachment style may play an important role in psychosocial recovery from severe burn injury.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:adult attachment, early adjustment, psychosocial, burn injury, cross-sectional study
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Kornhaber, R (Dr Rachel Kornhaber)
UTAS Author:Visentin, D (Dr Denis Visentin)
UTAS Author:Cleary, M (Professor Michelle Cleary)
ID Code:133013
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Nursing
Deposited On:2019-06-01
Last Modified:2020-08-06

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