The indirect effect from childhood maltreatment to PTSD symptoms via thought suppression and cognitive reappraisal

Rebecca E. Sistad, Raluca M. Simons, Mahsa Mojallal, Jeffrey S. Simons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Emotion regulation strategies may help explain the risk of experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among adults with a history of child maltreatment. However, no study to date has examined the roles of both thought suppression and cognitive reappraisal in the association between childhood maltreatment and PTSD symptoms. Objective: The current study sought to understand the associations between childhood maltreatment, thought suppression, cognitive reappraisal, and PTSD symptoms while controlling for negative affect and gender. Participants and setting: Data were collected on 660 university students (71 % female) ages 18–25 between 2013 and 2014. Participants completed self-report measures of childhood maltreatment, PTSD symptoms, and emotion regulation strategies. Method: A structural equation model was tested to examine the direct and indirect effects from childhood maltreatment to PTSD symptoms via thought suppression and cognitive reappraisal, over and above gender and negative affect. Results: Childhood maltreatment was directly associated with PTSD symptoms (β = 0.28, SE = 0.04, p <.001). Childhood maltreatment also had a significant indirect effect on PTSD via cognitive reappraisal (β = 0.01, CI 95 % [0.00, 0.03]), but not through thought suppression, although (β = 0.01, CI 95 % [−0.00, 0.04]) thought suppression was significantly positively associated with PTSD symptoms (β = 0.21, SE = 0.04, p <.001). Conclusion: The present study sheds light on the effect of childhood maltreatment and two commonly used emotion regulation strategies on PTSD symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104939
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume114
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Childhood maltreatment
  • Cognitive reappraisal
  • Negative affect
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Thought suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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