Background. Recent developments in research suggest that particular attempts to control thoughts
may contribute to the problem of intrusion. An instrument capable of identifying strategies for
dealing with unwanted intrusions in clinical populations may be used for differentiating between
thought control strategies that may or may not be helpful.
Methods. The Thought Control Questionnaire (TCQ) (Wells & Davies, 1994) developed and
validated on a normal sample, was administered to a clinical sample in order to investigate the
consistency of the original factor structure and its psychometric properties. The sensitivity of the
scale to change associated with recovery was also examined. Relationships between individual
differences in thought control strategies and psychiatric symptoms in patients with DSM-IV major
depression, and PTSD with or without major depression were investigated.
Results. The Scree Test suggested a six-factor solution which was rotated. This solution split the
original distraction subscale into separate behavioural and cognitive distraction, otherwise the
subscales were almost identical to those obtained in non-clinical subjects. As this split has been
shown to be unreliable, further analyses in this study were based on the five-factor version of the
TCQ obtained by Wells & Davies (1994). Predictors of recovery and of symptoms in PTSD and
depression were explored.
Conclusions. Correlations between the TCQ subscales and other measures suggest that particular
thought control strategies may be associated with the symptoms of PTSD and depression. The TCQ
scales appear to be sensitive to changes associated with recovery. Significant differences emerged
in thought control strategies between depressed and PTSD patients. Hierarchical regression
analysis showed distraction, punishment and reappraisal control strategies predicted depression
scores in depressed patients while use of distraction predicted intrusions in PTSD.