Theses Doctoral

Risk and Protective Processes in the Face of Loss and Potential Trauma

Long, Kan

The importance of individual differences in psychological responses to loss and potential trauma is well-established, yet previous approaches have been limited in capturing and explaining the full scope of variation. The present studies expanded on this line of research to elucidate key aspects of the risk and protective processes that influence psychological adaptation to loss and trauma.

The first set of studies examined the influence of emotion regulation choice sensitivity on the relationship between potentially traumatic events (PTEs) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans and nonveterans. In the veteran sample, choice sensitivity was found to be a moderator that reduced the impact of PTE exposure on PTSD symptoms. Choice sensitivity similarly functioned as a moderator in the nonveteran sample, however the effects were contingent on both the type of PTE exposure and the outcomes associated with implementation of the selected regulation strategies.

The second set of studies investigated risk and protective factors in the face of spousal loss. Random-intercept cross-lagged panel modeling was employed to examine and clarify the nature of the relationships between key factors and depression across an 8-year period. Factors included optimism, sense of control, religiosity, and social support while the primary bereavement outcome was depression symptoms. Distinct patterns of risk and protective processes were identified in relation to all factors that involved clearly differentiable stable, between-subjects effects and time-varying, within-subjects effects.

The third set of studies addressed whether resilience would extend across multiple domains of positive adjustment in the context of spinal cord injury, bereavement, and heart attack. Relationships between symptom-based trajectories of resilience and positive adjustment in psychological, social, and health-related domains were examined. Individuals who exhibited trajectories of resilience in relation to depression symptoms simultaneously experienced better positive adjustment, functioning, and health in areas that included quality of life, perceived manageability, anxiety, self-esteem, social integration, cognition, and body mass index.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Clinical Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Bonanno, George A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 8, 2020