Actor and partner effects of PTSD and relationship functioning in a recently traumatized sample


A robust negative association exists between self-reported posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and self-reported interpersonal relationship functioning. However, the extent to which each member of a dyad’s subjective PTSD ratings influence the other’s subjective relationship functioning ratings is less understood. The present study tested: (a) associations between self- and partner-PTSD severity ratings and relationship functioning ratings and (b) whether exposure to the index trauma, gender, and relationship type (i.e., intimate vs. nonintimate dyad) moderated these associations in a sample of 104 dyads of individuals with PTSD and a close significant other. Each partners’ ratings of PTSD severity were uniquely and positively associated with their own (actor) and their partner’s ratings of relationship conflict, but not support or depth. Gender moderated the partner effect; women’s (but not men’s) subjective PTSD severity were positively associated with their partners’ subjective relationship conflict. There was a relationship type by actor effect interaction for relationship support, which indicated that perceptions of PTSD severity were negatively associated with each partner’s perceptions of relationship support for intimate but not nonintimate dyads. Results support a dyadic conceptualization of PTSD in which both partners’ perception of symptoms are important for relationship functioning. Conjoint therapies may be particularly potent for PTSD and relationship functioning.

In Journal of Family Psychology

Full Citation:
Liebman, R.E., Schumm, J., Bartsch, A., Pukay-Martin, N., Crenshaw, A.O., Hart, T., Koerner, N., & Monson, C.M. (2023). Actor and partner effects of PTSD and relationship functioning in a recently traumatized sample. Journal of Family Psychology, 37(4), 517-527.