Some expressive writing (EW) interventions targeting posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) may reduce both PTSS and comorbid depression symptoms. The temporal associations between PTSS and depression symptom levels in response to EW interventions are unknown. This study examined the directionality of PTSS and depression symptom levels from baseline to 1-week, 1-month, and 3-month follow-ups of two online EW interventions in a Hispanic sample with diverse trauma experiences. Participants (n = 70) completed either emotion-focused or fact-focused writing for 3 consecutive days online. A manifest autoregressive model with cross-lagged effects and treatment condition was analyzed. All but one first-order autoregressive path were statistically significant, with later PTSS and depression scores significantly predicted by those scores at preceding time points. The cross-lagged effects findings suggest that earlier PTSS levels influenced later depression levels, but earlier depression did not influence later PTSS, demonstrating a unidirectional temporal association. Severe PTSS may hinder EW treatment gains in depression. Superior outcomes for emotion-focused writing relative to fact-focused writing were also found.
Hirai, M., Dolma, S., Vernon, L. L., & Clum, G. A. (2023). Temporal Associations Between Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Depression in Response to Online Expressive Writing Interventions in a Hispanic Sample. Behavior Therapy, 54(1), 170-181. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2022.08.001
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