A pilot study examining roles of cognitions and affect between positive memory processing and posttraumatic stress disorder symptom severity

Ateka A Contractor, Stephanie V Caldas, Anne N Banducci, Cherie Armour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms may impact cognitive processes underlying encoding and retrieval of positive memories. Contractor and colleagues thus proposed a Positive Memory-PTSD model outlining hypothesized pathways (e.g., improved cognitions and affect) linking active processing of positive memories and PTSD symptoms. In the current study, we empirically explored direct and indirect pathways of the Positive Memory-PTSD model including relations between presence/types of processing memory methodology, posttrauma maladaptive cognitions, positive/negative affect, and PTSD symptom severity. Methods: We randomly assigned 65 students reporting trauma histories to time-matched narrating (identifying and sharing details of elicited positive memories), writing (identifying and writing details of elicited positive memories), or control conditions. Participants completed self-report measures (T0) and repeated their assigned task condition and self-report measures 6-8 days later (T1). Results: Half-longitudinal models demonstrated direct associations of (1) being in the narrating versus other conditions with decreases in posttrauma maladaptive cognitions and negative affect, and increases in positive affect; and (2) increases in posttrauma maladaptive cognitions and negative affect with greater PTSD symptom severity. Although, when controlling for posttrauma maladaptive cognitions and negative/positive affect, being in the narrating versus other conditions was associated with decreases in PTSD symptom severity, these constructs did not explain examined relations. Conclusions: Results suggest beneficial impacts of narrating positive memories on PTSD symptom severity (accounting for cognitions/affect) and improved cognitions/affect, and a need to examine moderating variables (e.g., emotion regulation) in the Positive Memory-PTSD model. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological trauma : theory, research, practice and policy
Early online date18 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 18 Mar 2021

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