Meis LA (Minneapolis VA Medical Center; Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research; University of Minnesota), Erbes C
(Minneapolis VA Medical Center; University of Minnesota), Polusny M
(Minneapolis VA Medical Center; Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research; University of Minnesota)
The existing literature documenting associations between PTSD and relationship distress is frequently cross-sectional and lacking nuanced investigation of how PTSD and relationship functioning interact over time. Some aspects of relationship functioning may serve as buffers against PTSD, while PTSD symptoms also negatively affect relationship functioning. The present investigation examines relations between solider and family functioning from pre- to post-deployment and correlations between PTSD and relationship satisfaction.
Participants included 301 married or cohabitating soldiers from the Readiness and Resilience in National Guard Soldiers (RINGS) study. They completed self-report measures 1 month prior to deployment to Iraq and 2-3 months after their return. Self-report instruments included demographics and measures of PTSD symptoms (PCL), relationship adjustment (DAS), depression (BDI-II), alcohol use, and concerns about family functioning.
Longitudinal relationships: Hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses with Time 2 PTSD as the dependent variable found that time 1 ratings of concern over life and family disruption significantly and independently predicted Time 2 (post-deployment) symptoms of PTSD when controlling for other covariates. Additional analyses of time 1 predictors of Time 2 DAS scores will also be presented. Cross-sectional relationships: Significant, moderate negative correlations were found between Time 2 dyadic adjustment and each of the clusters of PTSD symptoms from the PCL. However, when allowed to compete for variance in a multiple regression, only numbing symptoms displayed a unique relationship with dyadic adjustment (re-experiencing, b = .20, p = .082; trauma-specific avoidance, b = -.10, p = .648, general numbing, b = -.53, p < .001, arousal, b = -.19, p = .063).
The present investigation suggests concern of disruption to soldiers’ lives and families may predict PTSD symptoms and that numbing symptoms may provide a point for intervention due to their unique association with relationship adjustment above and beyond other PTSD symptom clusters.
Findings highlight the importance of developing a more precise understanding of how PTSD symptoms and family distress are related for the development of interventions addressing these co-occurring problems and the prediction of PTSD symptoms over time.