Disclosure of emotional events in groups at risk for PTSD

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Published in: International Journal of Stress Management, vol. 17, no. 1, 2010.


The disclosure of emotional events to various social intimates (disclosure targets) was measured in 2 samples (soldiers and first responders) at risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as a comparison sample of college students. These 3 groups completed survey measures of disclosure, and at risk groups also completed measures of PTSD symptoms and social support. Groups at risk for PTSD were less likely to disclose emotions related to potentially traumatic events than were college students reporting general emotional disclosure. Overall, disclosure of positive emotions was more likely than disclosure of negative emotions. Furthermore, amount of disclosure depended on the person to whom the individual disclosed. Within groups at risk for PTSD, social support was associated with lower levels of PTSD. However, this relationship was mediated by emotional disclosure to each target. Disclosure of positive emotions generally was associated with lower levels of PTSD, and disclosure of negative emotions to those with similar at-risk status was associated with greater levels of PTSD.