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Posttraumatic stress disorder and relationship functioning: Examining gender differences in treatment-seeking veteran couples.

Knopp K, Wrape ER, McInnis R, Khalifian CE, Rashkovsky K, Glynn SM, Morland LA. Posttraumatic stress disorder and relationship functioning: Examining gender differences in treatment-seeking veteran couples. Journal of traumatic stress. 2021 Nov 20.

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Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are robustly associated with intimate relationship dysfunction among veterans, but most existing research has focused on male veterans and their female partners. Links between PTSD and relationship functioning may differ between female-veteran couples and male-veteran couples. The current study used actor-partner interdependence models (APIMs) to test the associations between PTSD symptoms (i.e., veteran self-report or significant others' collateral-report) and each partner's reports of six domains of relationship functioning, as well as whether these links were moderated by the gender composition of the couple. Data were from 197 mixed-gender couples (N = 394 individuals) who completed baseline assessments for a larger randomized controlled trial of a couple-based PTSD treatment. Significant others' collateral PTSD reports were associated with their own ratings of relationship satisfaction, negotiation, psychological aggression, sexual pleasure, and sexual desire frequency, s = .19-.67, and with veterans' ratings of negotiation and sexual desire frequency, s = .20-.48. In contrast, veterans' self-reported PTSD symptoms were only associated with their own ratings of psychological aggression, = .16. Gender moderated the associations between significant others' collateral PTSD reports and five of the six outcome variables; findings from exploratory subgroup analyses suggested links between reported PTSD symptoms and relationship functioning were generally more maladaptive for male-veteran couples, whereas female veterans showed more neutral or even helpful impacts of higher partner-perceived PTSD symptoms. These findings have implications for clinicians treating relational impacts of PTSD and emphasize the need for further research with female-veteran couples.

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