Experiential avoidance and the relationship between child maltreatment and PTSD symptoms: Preliminary evidence

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.
Child abuse & neglect (Impact Factor: 2.34). 03/2012; 36(2):118-26. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.09.012
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Not every adolescent exposed to child maltreatment develops symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), emphasizing the need to identify variables that explain how some maltreated children come to develop these symptoms. This study tested whether a set of variables, respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and cortisol reactivity as well as experiential avoidance, explained the relationship between child maltreatment and PTSD symptoms.
Adolescent females (N=110; n=51 maltreated) 14-19 years of age completed interviews, questionnaires, and a stressor paradigm. A multiple mediator model was used to assess the effect for the set of variables while identifying specific indirect effects for each variable.
Results indicated that the set of variables mediated the relationship between child maltreatment and PTSD symptoms. However, only experiential avoidance contributed significantly to this effect when simultaneously estimating all other variables. The indirect effect for experiential avoidance was also significantly stronger than the effects of RSA and cortisol reactivity.
Data support the examination of experiential avoidance in understanding how adolescents who have been maltreated develop PTSD symptoms with implications for prevention and intervention.

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