Associations among disaster exposure, intimate relationship adjustment, and PTSD symptoms: Can disaster exposure enhance a relationship?


  • This research was supported in part by a grant to Patricia A. Resick from the National Institute of Mental Health (1-R01-MH55542).


This study examined associations among disaster characteristics, relationship adjustment, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology 9 months postdisaster in 205 women exposed to extensive flooding. Bivariately, threat/harm and loss exposure dimensions were related to each other but differentially related to relationship adjustment and PTSD symptoms. Results from structural equation modeling revealed a positive and significant direct association between threat/harm and PTSD symptoms. Conversely, loss was not significantly associated with PTSD symptoms, but was positively and significantly associated with relationship adjustment. Relationship adjustment was negatively and significantly related to PTSD symptoms. These data suggest that some aspects of disaster exposure can have a mobilizing and positive effect on intimate relationships. In turn, positive intimate relationships may buffer individuals against PTSD symptoms.