Intimate relationships among returning soldiers: The mediating and moderating roles of negative emotionality, PTSD symptoms, and alcohol problems

Authors

  • Laura A. Meis,

    1. Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and University of Minnesota Medical School
    Current affiliation:
    1. Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School
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  • Christopher R. Erbes,

    Corresponding author
    1. Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and University of Minnesota Medical School
    Current affiliation:
    1. Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota Medical School
    • Minneapolis VA Medical Center; One Veterans Drive (116A6), Minneapolis, MN 55417
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  • Melissa A. Polusny,

    1. Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and University of Minnesota Medical School
    Current affiliation:
    1. Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota Medical School
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  • Jill S. Compton

    1. Duke University Medical Center
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center
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  • This research was supported by grants from the Minnesota Medical Foundation (Grant #3662-9227-06) and Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (W81XWH-07-2-0033). The authors would like to thank MAJ Cora Courage and COL Michael Rath for their assistance with subject recruitment for this project. We would also like to thank Dr. Paul Arbisi and Dr. Paul Thuras for their contributions to the RINGS study as well as Madhavi Reddy and numerous RINGS study research assistants for their assistance with data management.

Abstract

Research examining relationship quality among combat veterans largely focuses on the role of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with less attention devoted to other correlates of PTSD and relationship quality, such as personality and problematic drinking. In a sample of combat-exposed National Guard soldiers recently returned from Iraq (N = 308), we examined (a) a meditational pathway from negative emotionality, to elevated postdeployment PTSD symptoms, to poorer relationship quality; and (b) the moderating role of problematic drinking. Moderated mediation regression strategies supported the mediating role of postdeployment PTSD symptoms, but not the moderating role of problematic drinking on soldiers' relationship quality. Findings suggest negative emotionality creates a vulnerability to more severe early postdeployment PTSD symptoms and poorer early postdeployment relationship quality.

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