Lack of perceived social support is one of the strongest correlates of the development and maintenance of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, little is known about observed social support and PTSD. The stress buffering effect of social support may be partly determined by the subjective experience of support, which is created by attributions regarding support behaviors. We examined negative attributions about partner-provided support as a moderator of the expected relation between observed support during couple discussions and PTSD symptom severity. Participants included 128 individuals from 64 heterosexual married or cohabitating couples. Per clinician-administered interview, 72 (56%)participants met subthreshold or diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Receipt of relatively more partner support was modestly associated with lower PTSD symptom severity. Negative causal attributions about partner support were not associated with the amount of support received, but were associated with higher PTSD severity. Additionally, the frequency and quality of received partner support was associated with lower PTSD symptom severity only among those who did not make strong negative causal attributions about partner support. Thus, negative causal attributions may dampen the positive effects of social support on PTSD symptoms. PTSD treatments may more effectively facilitate recovery from trauma by decreasing negative support attributions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health