Predictors of lower-than-expected posttraumatic symptom severity in war veterans: The influence of personality, self-reported trait resilience, and psychological flexibility
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Resilience following traumatic events has been studied using numerous methodologies. One approach involves quantifying lower-than-expected levels of a negative outcome following trauma exposure. Resilience research has examined personality and coping-related factors. One malleable factor is psychological flexibility, or the context-dependent ability/willingness to contact the present moment, including emotional distress, in order to engage in valued actions. Among 254 war Veterans who participated in a longitudinal study, we operationalized resilience as lower-than-expected PTSD symptoms and PTSD-related functional impairment one-year following an initial post-deployment assessment based on lifetime exposure to childhood trauma, combat trauma, and sexual trauma during military service. We evaluated the contribution of personality factors, self-reported trait resilience, and psychological flexibility, measured using the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II, to PTSD-related resilience after accounting for lifetime and current PTSD symptom severity and depression symptom severity. In hierarchical regression analyses, neither specific personality factors nor self-reported resilience predicted PTSD-related resilience at follow-up after accounting for PTSD and depression symptoms. In the final step, psychological flexibility predicted unique variance and was the only significant predictor of PTSD-related resilience aside from baseline PTSD symptom severity. Findings indicate that psychological flexibility is a predictor of resilience that is distinct from psychiatric symptoms, personality, and self-reported resilience. Trauma survivors may benefit from interventions that bolster psychological flexibility.
author list (cited authors)
Meyer, E. C., Kotte, A., Kimbrel, N. A., DeBeer, B. B., Elliott, T. R., Gulliver, S. B., & Morissette, S. B.