Dimensions of partner interactions and disclosure predict different trauma related outcomes in couple relationships.
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Proctor, Amanda B., 1991-
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For people in married or cohabiting relationships where one partner has been exposed to a traumatic event, different trauma related outcomes may be associated with distinct dimensions of partner interactions and trauma disclosure. Studies conducted with military populations suggest the association of partner support and posttraumatic stress symptom severity is mediated by willingness to disclose trauma related experiences to an intimate partner. The current study examined a model in which positive and negative partner interactions were expected to predict two types of trauma related outcomes (i.e., posttraumatic stress symptoms and posttraumatic growth) and be mediated by three dimensions of disclosure (i.e., willingness to disclose, urge to disclose, and emotional reactivity to disclosure) after controlling for general relationship sentiment. A sample of 147 individuals in married or cohabiting relationships where one partner survived a traumatic event were asked to complete an online survey via the Amazon Mechanical Turk website. Negative interactions uniquely contributed to predicting posttraumatic stress symptoms and the effect was significantly larger than positive interactions. Positive interactions uniquely contributed to predicting posttraumatic growth. Importantly, these associations remained significant after controlling for relationship sentiment. Only urge to disclose and emotional reactivity to disclosure uniquely contributed to predicting posttraumatic growth and posttraumatic stress symptoms, respectively. Results for mediation were less robust than previous research; nonetheless, four models of indirect effects remained significant after controlling for sentiment. Overall, the results of this study highlight the importance of positive and negative interpersonal behaviors and distinctive components of disclosure in predicting different trauma related outcomes.