Category: Violence / Aggression

Symposium

Reductions in PTSD Symptoms Are Related to Lower Levels of Aggression After Residential Treatment for PTSD in Veterans

Saturday, November 18
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Cobalt 501, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Aggression / Disruptive Behaviors / Conduct Problems | PTSD Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Veterans
Presentation Type: Symposium

Although the link between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and aggression has been repeatedly demonstrated (Buchholz et al., 2017; Taft et al., 2009), to our knowledge, no research has examined whether treatment-related PTSD symptom reductions are linked to less aggression after treatment. The current study aimed to address this gap in the literature by examining the relationship between treatment-related changes in PTSD symptoms and post-treatment aggression in veterans engaged in residential treatment for PTSD. We hypothesized that greater reductions in PTSD symptoms during residential treatment would be related to lower levels of aggression four months after discharge.


Participants were 2,275 veterans in residential treatment for PTSD across 35 Veterans Health Administration sites. PTSD symptoms were assessed with the PTSD Checklist (Weathers et al., 1993). Alcohol misuse was measured with a modified AUDIT-C (Bush et al., 1998). Participants answered four items assessing aggressive behavior in response to quarrels with others (McFall et al., 1999). Participants completed questionnaires upon admission to residential treatment and four months after discharge.


A linear regression was conducted with follow-up aggression as the outcome. PTSD change score was entered as a predictor; covariates included baseline PTSD symptoms, baseline aggression, baseline and follow-up alcohol misuse, and treatment and demographic variables. This model explained a significant portion of the variance in aggression at follow-up, R2 = .27, F(10, 2196) = 82.03, p < .001. As expected, greater reductions in PTSD symptoms were related to lower aggression at follow-up (b = -.03, p < .001). 


Findings from the current study are consistent with previous research showing associations between PTSD and aggression, and suggest that interventions targeting PTSD symptoms may also reduce risk for aggression. These findings inform evidence-based approaches to violence risk assessment and intervention (Elbogen et al., 2014) and models of trauma-related anger and aggression (Chemtob et al., 1997).

Laura Watkins

Postdoctoral Fellow
National Center for PTSD Clinical Neurosciences Division, Yale University School of Medicine

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Reductions in PTSD Symptoms Are Related to Lower Levels of Aggression After Residential Treatment for PTSD in Veterans



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