Cumulative Trauma Exposure, Emotion Regulation, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Incarcerated Women.J Trauma Stress 2019JT
Incarcerated women report high rates of trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Emotion regulation has been identified as a potential mechanism that contributes to the association between trauma exposure and PTSD severity. The present study examined associations among cumulative trauma exposure, emotion regulation difficulties, and current (30-day) PTSD in 152 randomly selected women in prison. Utilizing structural equation modeling (SEM), results indicated cumulative trauma was significantly associated with emotion regulation difficulties, β = .31, SE = .13, p = .005; and PTSD symptom severity, β = .41, SE = .14, p = .005. We identified a significant indirect effect, 0.11, z = 2.37, p = .018, of emotion regulation on the association between cumulative trauma exposure and severity of current PTSD symptoms. These findings are consistent with previous longitudinal research suggesting that emotion regulation is significantly affected by trauma exposure, and they support previously identified associations between emotion regulation difficulties and severity of PTSD. Further, these findings have the potential to inform current efforts to identify and implement effective PTSD-focused interventions with incarcerated women. In particular, it appears that emotion regulation skills may be an important component of effective PTSD focused interventions for this population.