International Journal of Psychophysiology
Original Item ID
Emotional dysregulation that occurs after trauma conveys risk for multiple disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. Psychophysiological data (e.g., skin conductance level [SCL]) may be a useful biomarker for quantifying emotion dysregulation given that autonomic nervous system (ANS)-mediated arousal may underlie this feature. In this longitudinal study, we tested whether SCL collected following a single-incident traumatic injury could predict changes in emotion dysregulation over 6 months. Sixty-six adults were recruited from the emergency department; SCL was quantified during an active trauma narrative, in which participants re-told their traumatic event to a research staff member, as well as a neutral narrative for a control condition. Change in SCL (ΔSCL) was calculated using a maximum activation – minimum activation difference score. Multilevel linear modeling was used to test ΔSCL as a predictor of emotion dysregulation using the Emotion Dysregulation Scale (EDS) over time (3 timepoints over 6 months). Results showed that greater ΔSCL – indicative of increasing arousal– during both the trauma (p = 0.037) and neutral (p = 0.013) narratives was a significant predictor of greater emotion dysregulation at each subsequent timepoint. Further, we found a ΔSCL by time interaction, such that less ΔSCL during the neutral narrative predicted decreased emotion dysregulation over time (b = −1.26, SE = 0.43, t = −2.91, p = 0.004). Results validate the use of lab-based assessments of arousal to study emotion dysregulation in trauma survivors. That recovery from emotion dysregulation was predicted by less arousal during a neutral event underscores the importance of clinically targeting response to safety in trauma survivors.
Fitzgerald, Jacklynn M.; Timmer-Murillo, Sydney Clare; Sheeran, Claire; Begg, Hailey; Christoph, Morgan; deRoon-Cassini, Terri A; and Larson, Christine L., "Psychophysiological Predictors of Change in Emotion Dysregulation 6 Months after Traumatic Injury" (2022). Psychology Faculty Research and Publications. 562.
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