The effect of trauma proximity and ruminative response styles on posttraumatic stress and posttraumatic growth following a university shooting

Jana DeSimone Wozniak, Hailey E Caudle, Kaitlin Harding, Julie Vieselmeyer, Amy H Mezulis
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy 2019 August 15

OBJECTIVE: Shootings in academic settings are associated with the development of both posttraumatic growth (PTG) and posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms (Bardeen, Kumpula, & Orcutt, 2013). Traumatic events can challenge an individual's cognitive framework and contribute to the development of PTS and PTG. Intrusive rumination is thought to increase vulnerability to PTS symptoms, whereas deliberate rumination is likely to be associated with PTG. Literature that serves to distinguish the contextual and intraindividual predictors differentially leading to the development of PTS and PTG symptoms is limited. This cross-sectional study examined the relations between trauma proximity and posttraumatic outcomes as mediated by deliberate and intrusive ruminative responses to a university shooting. We hypothesize that (a) physical and emotional proximity would exert distinct effects on posttraumatic outcomes, (b) the effects of proximity on PTS would be mediated by intrusive rumination, and (c) the effects of proximity on PTG would be mediated by deliberate rumination.

METHOD: Three hundred and eighty-five students, faculty, and staff who were exposed to a university campus shooting completed a series of questionnaires 4 months after the event.

RESULTS: Emotional proximity was associated with PTS and PTG, whereas physical proximity was only associated with PTS. Of our four hypothesized mediation relationships, intrusive rumination mediated the relationship between physical proximity and PTS, and deliberate rumination mediated the relationship between emotional proximity and PTG.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that physical and emotional proximity to a traumatic event uniquely contribute to the development of posttraumatic outcomes and that intrusive rumination promotes maladaptive outcomes, whereas deliberate rumination may promote adaptive outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

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