Previous literature suggests that posttraumatic stress disorder (PSTD) is associated with poor physical health. To date a number of existing hypotheses have been developed to explain this association focusing predominantly on the interplay between cognitive and emotional appraisals. We have attempted to synthesise existing literature on the role of cognitive and emotional appraisals in explaining ill health (i.e. medically explained symptoms), following PTSD. On the basis of this review, we are introducing a conceptualisation aiming to explain poor physical health following PTSD. This new conceptualisation proposes that PTSD symptoms will lead to the production of two types of cognitive appraisals: Appraisals about the body that occurred during traumatisation, and cognitive appraisals about PTSD symptoms themselves. Both these cognitive appraisals coupled with negative emotional responses will lead to physiological arousal and negative health behaviours and subsequently to poor health. Although this conceptualisation has certain clinical implications for the management of physical health following PTSD, further research is required to test such by investigating the association between its elements.
Karatzias, T., & Chouliara, Z. (2009). Proposing a New Model of Poor Physical Health Following Psychological Trauma: The Ehlers-Clark Model and Beyond. Medical Hypotheses, 72, 444-447. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2008.10.026