Distress tolerance: prospective associations with cognitive-behavioral therapy outcomes in adults with posttraumatic stress and substance use disorders. Academic Article uri icon


  • 74Distress tolerance (DT; perceived or actual ability to tolerate aversive physical or emotional states) is related to both posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and substance use disorders (SUD). This investigation evaluates self-report and behavioral measures of DT as potential predictors of PTSD and SUD cognitive-behavioral therapy outcomes. Participants included 41 treatment-seeking adults (53.7% women; 73.2% African American; Mage=44.90, SD=9.68) who met at least four symptoms of DSM-5 PTSD and DSM-IV substance dependence, assessed via structured interviews. At baseline (pre-treatment), participants completed the Distress Tolerance Scale (DTS), Mirror-Tracing Persistence Task (MTPT), Breath Holding task, and Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task. The Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 severity scores and percent days of primary substance use, measured via Timeline Follow-back, were used as indicators of PTSD symptoms and substance use, respectively. Covariates included treatment condition, baseline PTSD symptom severity, and baseline substance use. Lower perceived DT at baseline (DTS total score) was associated with higher PTSD symptom severity at end-of-treatment. Lower behavioral DT at baseline (MTPT duration) was associated with higher substance use at the conclusion of treatment (i.e. proportion of number of use days to total number of days between two final treatment sessions).

published proceedings

  • Cogn Behav Ther

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Vujanovic, A. A., Webber, H. E., McGrew, S. J., Green, C. E., Lane, S. D., & Schmitz, J. M.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Vujanovic, Anka A||Webber, Heather E||McGrew, Shelby J||Green, Charles E||Lane, Scott D||Schmitz, Joy M

publication date

  • July 2022