Reckless Self-destructive Behavior and PTSD in Veterans: The Mediating Role of New Adverse Events

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The addition of self-destructive and reckless behavior as a symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in DSM-5 has stimulated renewed interest in understanding relationships between these behaviors and trauma-related psychopathology. This study examined the relationship between reckless and self-destructive behaviors (RSDB), intervening exposure to new adverse events, and later PTSD severity in a sample of traumaexposed veterans. At baseline, participants were assessed for RSDB (past 5 years) and current PTSD severity (N = 222). PTSD severity was then reassessed approximately 4 years later (N = 148). Overall, RSDB were reported by 74.4% of the sample, with 61.3% engaging in multiple forms of RSDB. The most commonly endorsed behaviors included alcohol/drug abuse (42.8%), driving while intoxicated (29.4%), gambling (24.7%), and aggression (23.1%). There was a positive correlation between RSDB and PTSD severity at both the baseline (r = .16, p = .031) and follow-up assessment (r = .24, p = .005). Path models indicated that exposure to new adverse events fully mediated the effect of Time 1 RSDB on PTSD symptoms at Time 2 (indirect association: β = .05, p =.046). Results suggest that RSDB are common among trauma-exposed veterans and may perpetuate PTSD symptoms by increasing exposure to new adverse events.
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Lusk, J. D., Sadeh, N., Wolf, E. J. and Miller, M. W. (2017), Reckless Self-Destructive Behavior and PTSD in Veterans: The Mediating Role of New Adverse Events. JOURNAL OF TRAUMATIC STRESS, 30: 270–278. doi:10.1002/jts.22182