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Psychological adaptation to life-threatening injury in dyads: the role of dysfunctional disclosure of trauma


Pielmaier, Laura; Maercker, Andreas (2011). Psychological adaptation to life-threatening injury in dyads: the role of dysfunctional disclosure of trauma. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 2:8749.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Certain modes of trauma disclosure have been found to be associated with more severe symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS) in different trauma populations: the reluctance to disclose trauma-related thoughts and feelings, a strong urge to talk about it, and physical as well as emotional reactions during disclosure. Although social-contextual influences gain more and more interest in trauma research, no study has yet investigated these “dysfunctional disclosure tendencies” and their association with PTS from an interpersonal perspective.

OBJECTIVE: (1) To replicate previous findings on dysfunctional disclosure tendencies in patients with life-threatening injury and their significant others and (2) to study interpersonal associations between dysfunctional disclosure style and PTS at a dyadic level.

METHOD: PTS symptom severity and self-reports on dysfunctional disclosure tendencies were assessed in N=70 dyads comprising one individual with severe traumatic brain injury and a significant other ("proxy") 3 months after injury.

RESULTS: Regression analyses predicting PTS symptom severity revealed dysfunctional disclosure tendencies to have incremental validity above and beyond sex, age, and trauma severity within the individual (both patient and proxy), with moderate effect sizes. The interaction between patient's and proxy's disclosure style explained additional portions of the variance in patients' PTS symptom severity.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that dysfunctional disclosure tendencies are related to poorer psychological adaptation to severe traumatic brain injury. This intrapersonal association may be exacerbated by dysfunctional disclosure tendencies on the part of a significant other. Although the results require replication in other trauma samples without brain injury to further generalize the findings beyond the observed population, the study contributes to the expanding literature on the crucial role of interpersonal relationships in trauma recovery.

BACKGROUND: Certain modes of trauma disclosure have been found to be associated with more severe symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS) in different trauma populations: the reluctance to disclose trauma-related thoughts and feelings, a strong urge to talk about it, and physical as well as emotional reactions during disclosure. Although social-contextual influences gain more and more interest in trauma research, no study has yet investigated these “dysfunctional disclosure tendencies” and their association with PTS from an interpersonal perspective.

OBJECTIVE: (1) To replicate previous findings on dysfunctional disclosure tendencies in patients with life-threatening injury and their significant others and (2) to study interpersonal associations between dysfunctional disclosure style and PTS at a dyadic level.

METHOD: PTS symptom severity and self-reports on dysfunctional disclosure tendencies were assessed in N=70 dyads comprising one individual with severe traumatic brain injury and a significant other ("proxy") 3 months after injury.

RESULTS: Regression analyses predicting PTS symptom severity revealed dysfunctional disclosure tendencies to have incremental validity above and beyond sex, age, and trauma severity within the individual (both patient and proxy), with moderate effect sizes. The interaction between patient's and proxy's disclosure style explained additional portions of the variance in patients' PTS symptom severity.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that dysfunctional disclosure tendencies are related to poorer psychological adaptation to severe traumatic brain injury. This intrapersonal association may be exacerbated by dysfunctional disclosure tendencies on the part of a significant other. Although the results require replication in other trauma samples without brain injury to further generalize the findings beyond the observed population, the study contributes to the expanding literature on the crucial role of interpersonal relationships in trauma recovery.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:31 Oct 2012 10:00
Last Modified:05 Aug 2016 08:14
Publisher:Co-Action Publishing
ISSN:2000-8066
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3402/ejpt.v2i0.8749
PubMed ID:22893822
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-66047

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