Problem-focused coping mediates the effect of subclinical trauma symptoms in returning service members on psychological distress in their civilian partners.

Service members’ subclinical trauma symptoms predict psychological adjustment difficulties in their civilian partners. Few studies, however, have explored processes that underlie this effect. Whether the relationship between service members’ subclinical trauma symptoms and civilian partners’ psychological distress occurs indirectly via coping behaviors was explored here. A total of 52 service members and their civilian partners completed online surveys. Service members answered questions on military variables and subclinical trauma. Civilian partners answered questions on problem-focused (PF) and disengaged coping, and psychological distress. Civilian partners of service members reporting greater subclinical trauma symptoms used fewer PF coping behaviors, and this predicted increased psychological distress. These findings provide a likely target for intervention; increasing PF coping might mitigate psychological distress in civilian partners of trauma-affected service members. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)