Background Self-efficacy may be an important factor in individuals’ recovery from posttraumatic stress reactions after a natural disaster. However, few longitudinal studies have investigated whether self-efficacy predicts the course of posttraumatic recovery beyond lower initial levels of distress. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether general self-efficacy is related to recovery from posttraumatic stress reactions from a longitudinal perspective. Methods A total of 617 Norwegians exposed to the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami completed self-report questionnaires measuring their level of disaster exposure and general self-efficacy at 6 months and posttraumatic stress reactions 6 months and 2 years post-disaster. Predictors of changes in posttraumatic stress reactions were analyzed with multivariate mixed effects models. Results Self-efficacy at 6 months post-disaster was unrelated to trauma exposure and inversely related to posttraumatic stress reactions at 6 months and 2 years post-disaster. However, self-efficacy was not related to recovery from posttraumatic stress reactions between 6 months and 2 years post-disaster. Conclusions In conclusion, general self-efficacy is related to lower levels of posttraumatic stress reactions in the first months after a disaster but does not appear to be related to improved recovery rates over the longer term.
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