Trauma-related reactivity and regulation of emotion: Associations with posttraumatic stress symptoms

Christal L. Badour, Matthew T. Feldner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Background and objectives: Both emotional reactivity to traumatic event cues and difficulties regulating emotion have been linked to posttraumatic stress symptom severity. The current study uniquely extended these two lines of research by examining the degree to which these two factors alone, and in combination, account for variability in posttraumatic stress symptom severity. Method: Self-reported emotion regulation difficulties, and both subjective and physiological reactivity in response to a script-driven imagery procedure, were assessed among a community sample of 21 adult women with a history of interpersonal assault. Relationships with an interview-based measure of posttraumatic stress symptom severity were examined. Results: Results were consistent with hypotheses. Both traumatic event-related emotional reactivity and emotion regulation difficulties independently predicted posttraumatic stress symptom severity. A significant interaction also emerged such that traumatic event-related emotional reactivity and posttraumatic stress symptom severity were only significantly associated at relatively elevated levels of emotion regulation difficulties. Limitations: Limitations included the use of a self-report questionnaire to assess emotion regulation difficulties, relatively small sample size, and lack of evidence regarding generalizability across gender or other traumatic event types. Conclusions: These results highlight that the interaction of heightened emotional reactivity and difficulties regulating emotion may be particularly influential in posttraumatic stress symptom severity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Volume44
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported, in part, by a NIMH National Research Service Award (F31 MH092994-01) as well as a grant from the Marie Wilson Howells Foundation in the Department of Psychological Science at the University of Arkansas, both awarded to the first author.

Keywords

  • Emotion
  • Emotion regulation
  • Imagery
  • PTSD
  • Posttraumatic stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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