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The Relationship of PTSD and Communication with Intimate Partners in a Sample of Vietnam Veterans

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Technical Report

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Uniformed Services University Of The Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD have had extraordinary impact oncombat veterans and on their social and intimate relationships. Communication behavior is believed to be a primary mechanism through which PTSD influences intimate relationships, and these veterans and their partners often report a variety of negative behavior patterns. Most of the relevant literature has relied on self-report measures, with sparse examples of observational research. In this study, 34 male Vietnam veterans and their intimate partners participated in videotaped conversations discussing three different topics a recent neutralpositive event NP, a problem within the relationship PR, and his Vietnam experience VN. The content of each conversation was coded using the Rapid Marital Interaction Coding System, and particular codes and sequences were compared based on PTSD severity, status PTSD vs non-PTSD, and conversation topic. Increasing PTSD severity was related to fewer overall veteran utterances, and veterans typically made fewer utterances in the VN topic than either the NP or PR topics. With increasing PTSD severity, veteran hostility increased during the VN topic but decreased during the NP topic. Rates of veteran self-disclosure were typically lower in the NP topic than either the PR or VN topics, and increased as PTSD severity increased. Instances of veteran withdrawal and psychological abuse were too infrequent to be analyzed. For wives, acceptance statements were highest during the VN topic and relationship enhancing attributions were highest during the PR topic.

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