It Is Not What Happens to You But How You React to It That Matters: PTSD as a Moderator of the Association Between Trauma and Impulsive Behaviors

Dorian R. Dodd, Emma L. Johnson, Vivienne M. Hazzard, Li Cao, Ross D. Crosby, Stephen A. Wonderlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We examined the moderating role of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the association between trauma and impulsive behaviors. Adult women (N = 97) with a history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA; n = 26), rape in adulthood (n = 21), both CSA and adult rape (n = 25), or no history of sexual trauma (n = 25) completed self-report questionnaires. PTSD symptoms were positively associated with self-harm and with stealing and accident proneness, but not with sexual impulsivity. Trauma group had no independent associations with impulsive behaviors. PTSD reexperiencing symptoms interacted with trauma group such that reexperiencing symptoms were positively associated with self-harm for the two trauma groups that included CSA but not for the control and adult rape-only groups. Overall, results indicate that PTSD symptoms - more so than the occurrence of trauma itself - associate with impulsive behavior. Results highlight the importance of assessing posttraumatic symptomatology, and not just trauma occurrence, when aiming to prevent or treat impulsive behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-707
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Volume210
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Trauma
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • impulsive behaviors
  • reexperiencing
  • self-harm

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