Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)
Predicting Posttraumatic Stress Symptomology in Emergency Medical Personnel
Coping with chronic illness; family and marital stress; social support; social relationships and health; life stress
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Perceptions of support availability are important for well-being. However, little is known about support mobilization. Questions remain about when support is likely to be sought and provided and why support receipt is not always linked to improvements in well-being. This research examined support mobilization in three intensive longitudinal studies. Study 1 categorized appraisals of threat during stressful situations based on whether they were agentic (self-focused) or communal (other-focused). A model linking stressors, appraisals of agentic and communal threat, and support mobilization was examined. Consistent with expectations, increases in agentic threat were associated with increases in support seeking and decreases in support provision. In contrast, increases in communal threat were associated with increases in support seeking and provision. Study 2 extended results of Study 1 by examining whether the associations between threats and support are moderated by extraversion and agreeableness, personality dimensions previously implicated in the support process. At times when participants experienced increases in agentic threat, those higher in extraversion increased their support seeking and decreased their support provision to a greater extent than those lower in extraversion. At times when participants experienced increases in communal threat, those higher in agreeableness increased their support seeking and provision to a greater extent than those lower in agreeableness. Study 3 examined the associations between pain and several types of emotional support mobilization from partners to individuals diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Those with RA provided reports on pain mornings and evenings across one week. Both partners also reported three types of emotional support: esteem, solicitous, and negative from the partners to the person with RA. Pain tended to increase across the day following increases in negative support receipt and solicitous support provision. Pain tended to decrease across the day when partners reported increased levels of esteem support provision. This research adds to the growing body of literature on the support mobilization process, building knowledge on factors that might lead people to seek and provide support during stress. This research also unpacks different types of emotional support and sheds light on the types that may be helpful in chronic pain contexts.
Paramedics are frequently exposed to traumatic events on the job, and although they have higher levels of posttraumatic stress symptomology (PTSS) than the general population (Berger et al., 2012), not all paramedics experience high PTSS. Identifying factors that impact PTSS among individuals who are frequently exposed to traumatic stress is important for the development of evidence-based interventions. Using a longitudinal design, we examined relationships among rumination, perceived stress, and PTSS in 87 shift-working paramedics. Perceived stress and rumination were examined daily across a one-week period, while measurements of PTSS were assessed at baseline and at a two-year follow-up. Regression analyses indicated that perceived stress significantly predicted rumination. Rumination significantly predicted PTSS at the two-year follow-up, even after controlling for baseline PTSS, depression, and occupational stressors. Perceived stress did not directly predict PTSS at follow-up. Rather, rumination mediated the relationship between perceived stress and PTSS. Specifically, higher levels of perceived stress were associated with higher rumination, and higher rumination was associated with higher levels of PTSS at follow-up. These findings suggest the importance of targeting both perceived stress and rumination in clinical interventions for individuals who are frequently exposed to traumatic stressors.
Shift workers are a population at risk for experiencing poor sleep. Given the evidence linking health with shift work and sleep disturbance, it is important to identify factors that can exacerbate or mitigate sleep problems in this vulnerable population. We followed eighty-seven shift-working paramedics morning and evening over one week using an intensive longitudinal design. Multilevel modeling was used to examine whether the detrimental effects of daily occupational stress on sleep quality were buffered by perceived social support availability. Paramedics who reported more social support tended to report better quality sleep over the week. Additionally, social support buffered sleep from day-to-day fluctuations in occupational stress as well as from high average occupational stress over the week. Findings indicated that those with low levels of social support displayed poor sleep quality on days with high occupational stress; those high in support did not show significant effects of occupational stress on sleep. Those with low levels of social support tended to also display poor sleep on average across the week when they also tended to report high occupational stress on average across the week. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Objective. To examine the effects of depressive symptoms and empathic responding on patient disability and marital quality over time. To identify factors that contribute to patient perceptions of spouses as responding empathically to their rheumatoid arthritis. Methods. Patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and their spouses (n = 133 couples) independently completed mailed questionnaires at baseline and one year later. Patients completed measures of functional impairment, marital quality, depressive symptoms, and perceived empathic responding from their spouse. Spouses reported their own depressive symptoms and empathic responding behavior. Results. Perceived empathic responding was found to interact with spouse depressive symptoms contributing significantly to the prediction of patient functional impairment reports at follow-up. Only when spouse empathic responding was low was spouse depression associated with greater patient functional impairment at 1-year follow-up. Similarly, in the model predicting patient marital quality at follow-up, there were significant 2-way interactions between perceived empathic responding and both spouse depressive symptoms and patient depressive symptoms. Only when spouse empathic responding was low did patient or spouse depression significantly predict poorer marital quality at follow-up. Patient perceptions of spouse empathic responding were found to depend on spouse reports of their own empathic responding, patient marital satisfaction, and the interaction of patient depressive symptoms and marital satisfaction. Conclusion. Empathic responding from the spouse was found to buffer against the negative effects of spouse depression on functional and marital outcomes for patients with RA. In developing couple-oriented RA treatments, increasing perceived empathic responding could serve as a useful target for intervention.