The British Journal of Psychiatry
The aetiology of post-traumatic morbidity: predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors.
A C McFarlane


A group of 469 firefighters were studied 4, 11 and 29 months after having an extreme exposure to a bushfire disaster. The relative importance of the impact of the disaster, personality and ways of coping were investigated as determinants of post-traumatic morbidity. Neuroticism and a past history of treatment for a psychological disorder were better predictors of post-traumatic morbidity than the degree of exposure to the disaster or the losses sustained. These results raise doubts about the postulated central aetiological role a traumatic event plays in the onset of morbidity.