Distress tolerance interacts with peritraumatic emotions to predict posttraumatic stress symptoms following sexual victimization.

Caitlyn O. Hood, Alyssa C. Jones, Jessica Flores, Christal L. Badour, Matthew T. Feldner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The intensity of peritraumatic emotions occurring at the time of, and in the hours or days immediately following, a traumatic event prospectively predicts posttraumatic stress symptom severity. However, less is known about how the perception of one’s ability to tolerate distressing emotions affects the relation between peritraumatic emotions and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Therefore, the current study investigated how perceived distress tolerance affects the association between peritraumatic emotional intensity and symptoms of posttraumatic stress. Participants included 72 adult women with a history of sexual victimization. Ratings of peritraumatic emotions (e.g., fear, anger, sadness, guilt, and shame), perceived distress tolerance, and posttraumatic stress symptoms were examined. All analyses controlled for general negative affect. Significant interactions emerged for overall peritraumatic emotional intensity, and specifically for peritraumatic anger, sadness, and shame. The associations between these peritraumatic emotions and posttraumatic stress symptoms were stronger for individuals with lower perceived ability to tolerate distress. Our results suggest that peritraumatic emotional experiences may be particularly relevant to understanding the development and maintenance of posttraumatic stress symptoms among individuals who have difficulty tolerating intense negative emotional states. Future research should examine whether perceived distress tolerance might serve as a potential target for posttraumatic stress prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-404
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Psychological Association


  • distress tolerance
  • peritraumatic emotion
  • posttraumatic stress
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • sexual victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Distress tolerance interacts with peritraumatic emotions to predict posttraumatic stress symptoms following sexual victimization.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this