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J Trauma Stress. 2013 Jun;26(3):329-37. doi: 10.1002/jts.21805. Epub 2013 May 1.

A dyadic analysis of the influence of trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder severity on intimate partner aggression.

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National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA.


This study used structural equation modeling to evaluate a mediation model of the relationship between trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and perpetration of intimate partner physical and psychological aggression in trauma-exposed veterans and their cohabitating spouses (n = 286 couples; 88% male veteran and female spouse, 80.8% White, non-Hispanic). Dyadic data analyses were used to simultaneously evaluate actor and partner effects using the actor-partner interdependence model (Kashy & Kenny, 2000). The primary hypothesis was that PTSD would mediate the association between trauma exposure and intimate partner physical and psychological aggression with these effects evident both within and across members of a couple (i.e., actor and partner effects). The best-fitting model included (a) equivalent actor and partner direct effects of trauma on veterans' acts of psychological aggression (β = .17 to .20, p = .001), and (b) equivalent actor and partner indirect effects via PTSD on veterans' acts of physical aggression (β = .08 to .10, p < .001). There were no direct or indirect effects predicting the spouses' aggression. Results suggest it is important to consider the trauma histories and possible presence of PTSD in both partners as this may be a point of intervention when treating distressed couples.

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