Category: Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders and Disasters
The disclosure of stressful events is an essential component of evidence-based treatments for PTSD with disclosure to family, friends and trusted others seen as a resilience factor for adaptive recovery. However, disclosure has also been linked to negative societal reactions, suggesting that disclosure may have both positive and negative consequences. Given this possibility, it is likely that expectations about disclosure may influence survivors’ willingness to discuss experiences with support members and/or health professionals. Aims of the current study were to evaluate the psychometric properties of a novel scale targeting positive and negative expectancies regarding disclosure.
Participants were undergraduates (N = 222; 75.2% female) involved in an ongoing study exploring functional outcomes following Criterion-A trauma. Disclosure expectations were assessed using a 33-item scale targeting positive (e.g., I will be better understood) and negative (e.g., Others will think I’m weak) outcomes rated on a 1 (Extremely unlikely) to 5 (Extremely likely) scale. Convergent measures included the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5), the Posttraumatic Cognitions Inventory (PTCI), and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS). Ratings of the frequency and perceived helpfulness of disclosure were also collected.
A scree plot and eigenvalues from an initial principal components model suggested a two-factor solution to these data. Principal axis factoring with Varimax rotation identified items as loading strongly (λ ≥ .51) and uniquely on their respective factors except for a single item on each scale (λ = .41 - .42). The reduced 31-item measure containing positive (14 items) and negative (17 items) expectancy scales accounted for 52.2% of item variability.
Internal consistency was excellent for both positive (α = .94) and negative (α = .94) scales. Whereas PTCI (rNE = .78; rPE = -.22), CAPS-5 (rNE = .54; rPE = -.13) and MSPSS (rNE = -.50; rPE = .35) scores demonstrated stronger correlations with negative vs. positive expectancies, an opposite pattern was noted for the frequency (rNE = -.15; rPE = .33) and perceived helpfulness (rNE = -.29; rPE = .57) of disclosure. Regression models indicated that while only negative expectations evidenced a reliable association with PTSD (βNE = .54, p < .001; βPE = .01, p = .921), both negative and positive scales held unique relations with perceived support (βNE = -.44, p < .001; βPE = .24, p < .001).
Data offer preliminary support for the reliability and factorial validity of the measure. Convergent and discriminant relations with PTSD, perceived support, and trauma-related cognitions provide further evidence of nuanced relations between disclosure expectancies and trauma-related outcomes.
Joshua Clapp– Assistant Professor, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming
Ryan Kozina– Doctoral Candidate, University of Wyoming
Shira Kern– Graduate Student, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming
Adam Ripley– Student, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming
Mary Lear– Graduate student, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming
Stephanie Stacy– University of Wyoming