Coping self-efficacy mediates the effects of negative cognitions on posttraumatic distress.
ABSTRACT Although cognitive distortions have predicted posttraumatic distress after various types of traumatic events, the mechanisms through which cognitive distortions influence posttraumatic distress remain unclear. We hypothesized that coping self-efficacy, the belief in one's own ability to manage posttraumatic recovery demands, would operate as a mediator between negative cognitions (about self, about the world, and self-blame beliefs) and posttraumatic distress. In the cross-sectional Study 1, data collected among 66 adult female victims of child sexual abuse indicated that coping self-efficacy mediated the effects of negative cognitions about self and about the world on posttraumatic distress. The same pattern of results was found in a longitudinal Study 2, conducted among 70 survivors of motor vehicle accidents. Coping self-efficacy measured at 1 month after the trauma mediated the effects of 7-day negative cognitions about self and about the world on 3-month posttraumatic distress. In both studies self-blame was not related to posttraumatic distress and the effect of self-blame on posttraumatic distress was not mediated by coping self-efficacy. The results provide insight into a mechanism through which negative cognitions may affect posttraumatic distress and highlight the potential importance of interventions aimed at enhancing coping self-efficacy beliefs.