Gender Differences in the Associations of PTSD Symptom Clusters With Relationship Distress in U.S. Vietnam Veterans and Their Partners


Renshaw, Keith D., Sarah B. Campbell, Laura Meis, and Christopher Erbes. 2014. “Gender Differences in the Associations of PTSD Symptom Clusters With Relationship Distress in U.S. Vietnam Veterans and Their Partners.” Journal of Traumatic Stress 27 (3): 283–90. doi:10.1002/jts.21916.

Authors: Sarah B. Campbell, Christopher Erbes, Laura Meis, Keith D. Renshaw


Research has consistently linked symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with relationship distress in combat veterans and their partners. Studies of specific clusters of PTSD symptoms indicate that symptoms of emotional numbing/withdrawal (now referred to as negative alterations in cognition and mood) are more strongly linked with relationship distress than other symptom clusters. These findings, however, are based predominantly on samples of male veterans. Given the increasing numbers of female veterans, research on potential gender differences in these associations is needed. The present study examined gender differences in the multivariate associations of PTSD symptom clusters with relationship distress in 465 opposite-sex couples (375 with male veterans and 90 with female veterans) from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study. Comparisons of nested path models revealed that emotional numbing/withdrawal symptoms were associated with relationship distress in both types of couples. The strength of this association, however, was stronger for female veterans (b = .46) and female partners (b = .28), compared to male veterans (b = .38) and male partners (b = .26). Results suggest that couples-based interventions (e.g., psychoeducation regarding emotional numbing symptoms as part of PTSD) are particularly important for both female partners of male veterans and female veterans themselves.

Topics: Female Combatants, Male Combatants, Women, Men, Gender Analysis, Mental Health, PTSD, Military Forces & Armed Groups Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2014

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