Predicting Secondary Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms Among Spouses of Veterans: Veteran’s Distress or Spouse’s Perception of That Distress?

Rachel Dekel, Zahava Solomon, Danny Horesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: There is a relatively wide consensus that veterans’ posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) may lead to the development of secondary traumatization (ST) among their spouses. However, there is limited knowledge about the way the ST develops over time, as well as its predictors. The current longitudinal study examined ST trajectories among spouses of Israeli war veterans with PTSS, as well as the contribution of veterans’ PTSS and wives’ assessment of veterans’ PTSS to these trajectories. Method: Data were collected from both spouses at 3 time points, 30, 35–37, and 42 years after the 1973 Yom Kippur War (2003, 2008–2010, and 2015, respectively). Results: Using multiple-group Latent Class Growth Analysis (LCGA), we identified 4 distinct ST trajectories. The majority of wives (68%) were in the resilient group, 12% were in the recovery group, approximately 10% were in the chronic PTSS group and another 10% were in the delayed-onset group. Multinomial regressions revealed that veterans’ PTSS predicted the 4 different trajectories among their wives. In addition, wives in the recovery and chronic groups who perceived their veteran husbands’ PTSS to be higher also reported higher ST. Conclusions: This study highlights the complexity of the development of ST trajectories over time. Findings supports the idea of PTSS contagion, and reveals the contributing role of both objective and perceived levels of veterans’ PTSS in ST. Therefore, implementing interventions aimed at alleviating both individual and couple-level distress may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S409-S417
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Volume15
Early online date2 Dec 2021
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • PTSS
  • couples
  • perception
  • secondary traumatization
  • trajectories

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