Post-traumatic stress disorder symptom severity attenuates bi-directional associations between negative affect and avoidant coping: A daily diary study

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Date of Original Version



Introduction: Avoidant coping plays an important role in the maintenance of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, existing investigations have been limited in their assessment of coping as a static process – despite evidence that the coping strategies individuals use to manage stressors vary across time and contexts. Further, research has relied on cross-sectional designs, precluding determination of the directionality of the negative affect-avoidant coping association. The current study addresses these limitations by using a daily diary method to examine the moderating role of PTSD symptom severity on reciprocal relations between negative affect and avoidant coping. Methods: Participants were 1,188 trauma-exposed adults (M age = 19.2, 56% female, 79% White) who provided daily diary data for 30 days via online surveys. Multi-level models were tested to evaluate the moderating role of PTSD symptom severity in the daily relations between negative affect and avoidant coping during the 30-day period. Results: Levels of daytime negative affect were assoicated with use of evening avoidant coping. Use of evening avoidant coping were associated with levels of next-day daytime negative affect. PTSD symptom severity moderated these relations. For individuals with more (vs. less) severe PTSD symptoms, the association of negative affect to avoidant coping was weaker and the association of avoidant coping to negative affect was stronger. Limitations: Findings must be interpreted in light of limitations, including self-report measures and assessment of a alcohol using sample of college students. Discussion: These findings advance our understanding of the negative affect-avoidant coping association among trauma-exposed individuals.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Affective Disorders