Trauma symptoms contribute to daily experiential avoidance: Does partner support mitigate risk?

Molly R. Franz, Rebecca L. Brock, David DiLillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: The present study examined the protective role of partner support in reducing daily experiential avoidance (EA) associated with trauma symptoms in a sample of 154 couples during pregnancy. Background: Although psychological distress during pregnancy may hinder the developing bond between parents and infants after birth, high quality intimate partner support has the potential to enhance psychological wellbeing during pregnancy, particularly in the context of trauma. Specifically, partner support might mitigate the impact of trauma symptoms on maladaptive coping strategies such as EA by enabling individuals to safely encounter their distress. Method: Participants completed a semi-structured clinical interview of support and a PTSD symptom inventory, followed by home surveys of EA over 14 days. We examined growth trajectories of EA over 14 days using latent trajectory modeling within a dyadic framework. Results: Trauma symptom severity was associated with higher levels of EA across the 2 weeks; however, among women, the impact of trauma symptoms on EA was no longer significant when support from a partner was above average quality or higher. Findings also revealed partner effects; to the extent that women reported higher levels of trauma symptoms, their partners had higher levels of EA. Conclusion: Findings highlight the protective role of high quality support from intimate partners and suggest that trauma-related interventions targeting partner support processes, especially those implemented during pregnancy, might enhance recovery and prevent further distress and dysfunction among pregnant women experiencing trauma symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-341
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Coping
  • PTSD
  • dyadic data analysis
  • emotions
  • gender differences
  • pregnancy
  • social support
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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