Coping, Peritraumatic Reactions, Negative Life Events, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms: A Prospective Study of Adolescent Girls

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MacKenzie, Carlye
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The purpose of this study was to identify the prevalence of High- and Low- magnitude Negative Life Events (NLEs) among adolescent girls, and to investigate the role of coping and Peritraumatic Reactions (PTRs) in relation to PTSD symptoms. Participants (N = 211) completed self report scales at five intervals over a period of two years (grades 9 through 11). Trait coping was assessed both at the beginning and end of the 2-year data collection period. At the end of this period, history of negative life events was assessed; participants then selected the event that they perceived as the most negative (MN-NLE) during this period and completed questionnaires about PTRs, coping with the event (state coping), and post-event symptomology (PTSD symptoms). It was hypothesized that: (1) that the relationship between PTRs, post-event state coping, and PTSD symptoms would be moderated by whether the event was a High- or a Low-magnitude stressor; (2) that PTSD symptoms would be related to PTRs and post-event state coping, and that these relationships would be moderated by pre-event or trait coping styles; (3) that post-NLE state coping would mediate the relationship between PTRs and PTSD symptoms; and (4) that exposure to high levels of adversity during the high school years (Adolescent Adversity) would have a negative effect on trait coping (i.e., decreased use of positive coping and increased use of negative coping). Findings of the present study offered support for each hypothesis: (1) event magnitude moderated the relationship between PTRs and PTSD; (2) baseline trait coping (Positive coping; Externalizing coping) moderated the relationship between PTRs and PTSD; (3) State coping (Internalizing coping, Externalizing coping, and Distancing coping) mediated the relationship between PTRs and PTSD; and (4) Adolescent Adversity predicted changes in Trait Externalizing scoping between baseline at the 2-year follow-up. Results are discussed in terms of PTSD theoretical and clinical issues.
Adjustment (Psychology) , Post-traumatic stress disorder , Dissociative disorders