Further investigation of the association between anxiety sensitivity and posttraumatic stress disorder: Examining the influence of emotional avoidance

Author(s):
 Joseph R. Bardeen, Matthew T. Tull, Erin N. Stevens & Kim L. Gratz

Abstract:
 Anxiety sensitivity (AS) and the tendency to avoid emotions have both been identified as vulnerability factors for the development and maintenance of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Furthermore, both cross-sectional and prospective research have provided evidence that emotional avoidance and AS interact to predict anxiety symptoms, such that AS may only be associated with anxiety-related pathology among those who exhibit a tendency to avoid their emotions. The purpose of the present study was to determine if this moderator model extends to PTSD within a sample of substance dependent patients. Specifically, this study examined if AS is associated with PTSD only among individuals with high (vs. low) levels of negative emotional avoidance. As predicted, results of a logistic regression analysis revealed a significant interaction between negative emotional avoidance and AS in predicting PTSD status. Follow-up analyses revealed a significant positive association between AS and PTSD status for participants high in negative emotional avoidance; however, AS was not associated with PTSD for those low in negative emotional avoidance. This finding remained even when relevant covariances were included in the model. Results confirm hypotheses and are consistent with the extant anxiety-risk literature.

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