Factors Related to Positive Memory Count Among Trauma-Exposed Individuals: A Scoping Review

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To examine the existing knowledge base on trauma experiences and positive memories, we conducted a scoping review of trauma and post-trauma factors related to positive memory count. In July 2019, we searched PubMed, Medline, PsycINFO, Web of Science, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Embase, and PTSDpubs for a combination of words related to “positive memories/experiences,” “trauma/posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” and “number/retrieval.” Twenty-one articles met inclusion criteria (adult samples, original articles in English, peer-reviewed, included trauma-exposed group or variable of trauma exposure, trauma exposure examined with a trauma measure/methodology, assessed positive memory count, empirical experimental/non-experimental study designs). Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews guidelines, two authors reviewed abstracts, completed a secondary search, and independently extracted data. Our review indicated (1) that depression and PTSD were most researched; (2) no conclusive relationships of positive memory count with several psychopathology (depression, acute stress disorder, eating disorder, and anxiety), cognitive/affective, neurobiological, and demographic factors; (3) trends of potential relationships of positive memory count with PTSD and childhood interpersonal traumas (e.g., sexual and physical abuse); and (4) lower positive memory specificity as a potential counterpart to greater overgeneral positive memory bias. Given variations in sample characteristics and methodology as well as the limited longitudinal research, conclusions are tentative and worthy of further investigations.

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Trauma, Violence, and Abuse