Medical personnel are not only exposed to routine pressures of demanding roles, but research reveals that they can suffer from severe stress related to exposure to critical incidents. These events can overwhelm an individual's ability for emotional adjustment leading to negative symptoms such as emotional numbing, mood changes, estrangement from friends or family, decreased ability to perform or function on the job, development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, loss of work through attrition, and depression. Contact with seriously injured children or children who have died has been shown to constitute just such a critical incident for pre-hospital care personnel (Linton, Webb, & Kommor, 1988). Nurses, as well as emergency physicians and support staff have also been found to experience similar stressors for extended lengths of times (Whitley, 1989; Whitley, Allison, & Gallery, 1991). Horowitz, Field, and Classen (1993) found that differences exist among individuals in the severity of negative responses to similar stressful life events. Personality was found to be one of the factors contributing to these differences. This study is exploratory in nature and focuses on: 1) identification of PTSD-like symptoms in pediatric intensive care unit nurses, and 2) identification of enduring personality characteristics that may be related to symptoms of PTSD. The results of this study using the Impact of Events Scale indicated that 96% of the participating PICU nurses experience moderate to severe PTSD-like symptomology. Factor C of the 16PF instrument indicated that the personality variable of emotional stability is negatively correlated with PTSD-like symptoms. These results suggest the need for the implementation of programs designed to prevent and/or provide early intervention for nurses who experience PTSD symptoms after critical incidents.

LLU Discipline

Experimental Psychology




Graduate School

First Advisor

M. Catherin Freier

Second Advisor

Janet L. Sonne

Third Advisor

Ronald M. Perkins

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Pediatric Nursing; Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic; Intensive care -- nursing



Page Count

2 v; 34

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives