Posttraumatic stress (PTS) is common in survivors from life-threatening events. Little is known, however, about the course of PTS after life threat in the absence of collateral stressors (e.g., bereavement, social stigma, property loss) and there is a scarcity of studies about PTS in the long term. This study assessed the short- and long-term course of PTS, and the influence of gender, education and age on the level and course of PTS, in survivors from a non-fatal airliner emergency landing caused by engine failure at an altitude of 1 km. There were 129 persons on board. A survey including the Impact of Event Scale was distributed to 106 subjects after 1 month, 4 months, 14 months, and 25 months, and to 95 subjects after 19 years (response rates 64-83%). There were initially high levels of PTS. The majority of changes in PTS occurred from 1 to 4 months after the event. There were small changes from 4 to 25 months but further decrease in PTS thereafter. Female gender was associated with higher levels of PTS whereas gender was unrelated to the slope of the short- and long-term trajectories. Higher education was related to a quicker recovery although not to initial or long-term PTS. Age was not associated with PTS. The present findings suggest that a life-threatening experience without collateral stressors may produce high levels of acute posttraumatic stress, yet with a benign prognosis. The findings further implicate that gender is unrelated to trajectories of recovery in the context of highly similar exposure and few collateral stressors.
2015. Vol. 10, no 3, e0119732