Problem focused coping partially mediates the relationship between soldiers’ sub-clinical trauma symptoms and psychological distress in their civilian partners

Brian Lovell, Shauna Gaszka

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Abstract

Much correlational research has reported on the relationship that exists between clinically verified trauma symptoms in returning soldiers and self-reports of distress in their civilian partners. Subclinical trauma, despite being much more prevalent in returning military personnel, however has rarely been examined in relation to civilian partners’ psychological functioning; the role of mediating variables has also been scarcely considered. This study aimed to fill this gap. A sample of (N=26) soldiers that had returned from a tour of duty in the last three years completed questionnaires assessing: (a) military variables (e.g., total tours of duty, exposure to active combat) and (b) subclinical trauma symptoms. Soldiers’ civilian partners completed questionnaires assessing: (c) problem focused (PF) and disengaged (DS) coping behaviours, and (d) psychological distress. Civilian partners of returning soldiers experiencing greater subclinical trauma used fewer PF coping behaviours, thus resulting in elevated distress scores. These findings provide a clearly definable target for clinical intervention; by increasing the use of PF coping behaviours, civilian partners of trauma affected military husbands might be relatively protected against psychological distress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-292
JournalTraumatology
Volume24
Issue number4
Early online date9 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Apr 2018

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