Military Veteran Status and PTSD Symptomatology among Urban Firefighters: The Moderating Role of Emotion Regulation Difficulties
Bartlett, Brooke Ashley
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Firefighters and veterans experience high rates of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology. The current study examined the moderating role of emotion regulation difficulties in the association between military veteran status and PTSD symptom severity in firefighters. Covariates included trauma load, number of years in the fire department, and depressive symptom severity. The sample was comprised of 839 (93.9% male; Mage= 38.4, SD= 8.5) trauma-exposed firefighters who completed a web-based questionnaire battery. Structural equation modeling was employed. Results demonstrated no significant main effect for military veteran status with regard to PTSD symptom severity. Emotion regulation difficulties were significantly, positively associated with PTSD symptom severity. Significant interactive effects were noted; firefighters who endorsed military veteran status and higher levels of emotion regulation difficulties had the highest levels of PTSD symptom severity. Post-hoc analyses revealed that endorsing military veteran status was significantly associated with higher PTSD arousal symptoms. Further, greater emotion regulation difficulties were associated with greater levels of PTSD intrusion, PTSD avoidance, PTSD negative alterations in cognition and mood (NACM), and PTSD arousal symptoms. Significant interactions between military veteran status and emotion regulation difficulties in relation to PTSD NACM and PTSD arousal symptoms were noted, such that firefighters who endorsed military veteran status and higher levels of emotion regulation difficulties had the highest levels of PTSD NACM and PTSD arousal symptoms. Clinical and research implications are discussed.