Event Title

Exploring Potential Risk and Protective Factors for Negative Cognitions and Emotions in Veterans with PTSD

Presenter Information

Candice HaydenFollow

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Adam McGuire

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Date of Publication

April 2021

Abstract

Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) struggle with negative cognitions (NC), which contribute to the development and maintenance of trauma-related symptoms. They also face negative emotions like shame and guilt, which can be elicited by trauma-specific cues. This study examined potential risk and protective factors for experiencing NC and emotions in veterans after exposure to a trauma-cue. This experimental study included a sample of 90 veterans with significant PTSD symptoms who completed self-report measures at baseline, then wrote a narrative about their worst traumatic event for 15 minutes. Next, they completed self-report measures of NC and emotions. Using multiple linear regression models, protective factors (quality of life [QOL], gratitude, mindfulness, elevation) and risk factors (number of deployments, combat experiences, PTSD severity) were entered as predictors for five separate DV's that include NC about self, the world, and self-blame, and state shame and guilt. QOL was significantly associated with NC about self (B = -0.55, p < .001), the world (B = -0.11, p = .001), and state shame (B = -0.09, p = .021). Trait Mindfulness was significantly associated with NC about self (B = -1.52, p < .001), state guilt (B = -0.31, p = .015), and shame (B = -0.35, p = .002). PTSD severity was only associated with NC about the world (B = 0.18, p = .005); trait elevation was only linked with state shame (B = .18, p = .05). Identifying protective and risk factors for trauma distress adds to the body of research by delineating "in the moment" reactions to trauma cues. Future studies should explore whether targeting risk factors alleviates distress and assess the potential utility of protective factors in prevention and treatment efforts.

Keywords

PTSD, Veterans, Trauma-cue

Persistent Identifier

http://hdl.handle.net/10950/3113

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Exploring Potential Risk and Protective Factors for Negative Cognitions and Emotions in Veterans with PTSD

Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) struggle with negative cognitions (NC), which contribute to the development and maintenance of trauma-related symptoms. They also face negative emotions like shame and guilt, which can be elicited by trauma-specific cues. This study examined potential risk and protective factors for experiencing NC and emotions in veterans after exposure to a trauma-cue. This experimental study included a sample of 90 veterans with significant PTSD symptoms who completed self-report measures at baseline, then wrote a narrative about their worst traumatic event for 15 minutes. Next, they completed self-report measures of NC and emotions. Using multiple linear regression models, protective factors (quality of life [QOL], gratitude, mindfulness, elevation) and risk factors (number of deployments, combat experiences, PTSD severity) were entered as predictors for five separate DV's that include NC about self, the world, and self-blame, and state shame and guilt. QOL was significantly associated with NC about self (B = -0.55, p < .001), the world (B = -0.11, p = .001), and state shame (B = -0.09, p = .021). Trait Mindfulness was significantly associated with NC about self (B = -1.52, p < .001), state guilt (B = -0.31, p = .015), and shame (B = -0.35, p = .002). PTSD severity was only associated with NC about the world (B = 0.18, p = .005); trait elevation was only linked with state shame (B = .18, p = .05). Identifying protective and risk factors for trauma distress adds to the body of research by delineating "in the moment" reactions to trauma cues. Future studies should explore whether targeting risk factors alleviates distress and assess the potential utility of protective factors in prevention and treatment efforts.