University of Missouri - Saint Louis

The Graduate School

Announcement

An oral examination in defense of the dissertation for the degree

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Ellen Koucky
M.A. in Psychology, May 2009, University of Missouri-St. Louis
B.A. in Psychology, May 2003, Villanova University


The Relationship Between Posttraumatic Cognitions and Social Support in the Severity of PTSD Symptoms

 

Abstract

Exposure to a traumatic event is relatively common, but the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the outcome for only a portion of individuals who suffer this experience. Etiology models that examine a wide range of factors including environmental, personal, social, and trauma-specific variables relevant to the development of PTSD have been established. Within these models, posttraumatic cognitions and social support have been identified as particularly salient aspects of the posttraumatic adaptation process. Although the independent associations of posttraumatic cognitions, perceived availability of social support and self-reported received social support have been recognized in theoretical etiology models and empirical research, much less is known about the way these variables interact in the development of PTSD. The current research tested the association between the perceived availability of social support and self-reported received social support in an interpersonal trauma sample (n=472). Results indicate that socially supportive behavior accounts for 25% of the variance in perceived availability of social support. Mean levels of perceived availability of social support and self-reported received social support were compared for the sample meeting diagnostic criteria for PTSD (n=204) to the sample endorsing subthreshold PTSD symptoms (n=268). In the PTSD-positive sample, socially supportive behavior accounted for 40% of the variance in perceived availability of social support. In the PTSD-negative sample, socially supportive behavior accounted for 16% of the variance in perceived availability of social support. Furthermore, the relationship between received social support and perceived availability of social support was significantly stronger in the PTSD-positive sample. Subjects meeting criteria for PTSD reported significantly higher levels of perceived availability of social support, but differences in level of received support were non-significant. Finally, results of the SEM model demonstrate that levels of posttraumatic cognitions, perceived availability of social support, and self-reported received social support accounted for 58% of the variance in PTSD symptom levels and further clarify complex relationships between these variables. Discussion of results highlights the importance of social support and posttraumatic cognitions in the etiology of PTSD. The clinical and social implications for the current study’s findings are also addressed.


 

Date: May 9, 2013

Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Place: Center for Trauma Recovery

 

Defense of Dissertation Committee

 

Steven Bruce, Ph.D. (Advisor)

Tara Galovski, Ph.D.

 

Ann Steffen, Ph.D.

Rocco Cottone, Ph.D.