Thwarted Belongingness and PTSD Symptom Severity among Firefighters: The Role of Emotion Regulation Difficulties



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The prevalence of trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among firefighters has been well-documented. Thwarted belongingness and emotion regulation difficulties present two factors with demonstrated relevance to the etiology and maintenance of PTSD symptoms. Few studies have examined these constructs, or their associations with PTSD symptomatology among firefighters. The present investigation examines the indirect effect of thwarted belongingness (TB) on PTSD symptom severity through emotion regulation difficulties (ERD). This study was a secondary analysis of data from a larger ongoing project. The sample was comprised of 246 trauma-exposed firefighters (M age = 40.21, SD = 9.93, 93.1% male), recruited from various departments in the southern U.S., who completed an online survey. Results demonstrate a significant indirect effect of TB on PTSD symptom severity through heightened ERD (β = 0.17; CI [0.08, 0.29]). All effects were evident after accounting for years of fire service, relationship status, and trauma load. These findings suggest that there is merit in investigating the role of interpersonal factors and emotion regulation difficulties among firefighter populations to better understand PTSD symptomatology. This line of inquiry has potential to inform evidence-based PTSD prevention and intervention efforts. Clinical and empirical implications are discussed.



Trauma, PTSD