Personality Factors and Their Impact on PTSD and Post-traumatic Growth is Mediated by Coping Style Among OIF/OEF Veterans

Elsa Mattson, Lisa James, Brian Engdahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Traumatic experiences can trigger negative effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, some individuals may also experience positive changes following trauma exposure. These changes are known as post-traumatic growth (PTG). Dispositional and situational factors are likely at play in determining both severity of PTSD symptoms and whether and to what degree an individual experiences PTG. This study examined how coping style and personality traits interact to influence PTSD and PTG. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two hundred and seventy-one Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom veterans not engaged in mental health treatment completed self-report measures of trauma exposure, personality traits, coping styles, PTSD symptoms, and PTG. The study was approved by the Minneapolis VAHCS Institutional Review Board. RESULTS: Adaptive coping and positive personality traits such as openness were positively correlated with PTG. Maladaptive coping and neuroticism were positively correlated with PTSD symptoms. Regression analyses indicated that an inverted-U (quadratic) curve characterized the relationship between PTSD symptoms and PTG; veterans who reported moderate PTSD levels reported the most PTG. Mediation analyses revealed that adaptive coping partially mediated the relationship between openness and PTG. Maladaptive coping partially mediated the relationship between neuroticism and PTSD symptoms. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated that coping style mediated relationships between personality traits and post-trauma outcomes. Our findings are subject to the limitations of the self-report and cross-sectional nature of the data. Longitudinal studies, preferably incorporating coping-oriented interventions, could convincingly demonstrate the impact of coping style on PTSD and PTG. As coping styles can be modified, our findings nonetheless suggest that coping-oriented clinical intervention has potential to reduce PTSD symptoms and promote positive growth following trauma exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e475-e480
JournalMilitary medicine
Volume183
Issue number9-10
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

Keywords

  • PTSD
  • coping styles
  • personality traits
  • posttraumatic growth

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