Negative Emotionality and Disconstraint Influence PTSD Symptom Course via Exposure to New Major Adverse Life Events
Miller, Mark W.
Wolf, Erika J.
Harkness, Kate L.
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Identifying the factors that influence stability and change in chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is important for improving clinical outcomes. Using a cross-lagged design, we analyzed the reciprocal effects of personality and PTSD symptoms over time and their effects on stress exposure in a sample of 222 trauma-exposed veterans (ages 23 – 68; 90.5% male). Personality functioning and PTSD were measured approximately 4 years apart, and self-reported exposure to major adverse life events during the interim was also assessed. Negative emotionality positively predicted future PTSD symptoms, and this effect was partially mediated by exposure to new events. Constraint (negatively) indirectly affected PTSD via its association with exposure to new events. There were no significant effects of positive emotionality nor did PTSD symptom severity exert influences on personality over time. Results indicate that high negative affect and disconstraint influence the course of PTSD symptoms by increasing exposure to stressful life events.