Measuring experiential avoidance and posttraumatic stress in families

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Behavioral Sciences


Experiential avoidance (EA) is receiving attention as an emotion regulation strategy and critical factor in the development and maintenance of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Evidence suggests that EA explains co-varying relationships among topographically dissimilar problem behaviors. The transmission of emotion regulatory strategies is important to understanding the development of these problems. EA may be a learned response style. This conceptual framework was used to test parent EA as a predictor of young adult/older adolescent (offspring) EA, posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), and problem behaviors in a university context as well as to test the best predictors of these outcomes individually for parents and offspring. Two measures of experiential avoidance, the unwillingness to be in contact with distressing emotions, thoughts, and memories were used to predict the outcomes of interest. The Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II) was the strongest and only statistically significant predictor of PTSS and problem behaviors for parents and offspring above and beyond trauma history, while the Multidimensional Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire (MEAQ) remained non-significant. Implications regarding measurement discrepancies, PTSS, and harmful behavior trajectories are discussed.

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