This work may not be copied, distributed, displayed, published, reproduced, transmitted, modified, posted, sold, licensed, or used for commercial purposes. By downloading this file, you are agreeing to the publisher’s Terms & Conditions.

Original Research

Interpersonal Support Domains Associated With Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Among Older Black and White Adults

Helene M. Altmann, MDa; Marie Anne Gebara, MDa; Steven M. Albert, PhDb; Jennifer Q. Morse, PhDc; Charles F. Reynolds III, MDa; Stephen B. Thomas, PhDd; and Sarah T. Stahl, PhDa,*

Published: May 29, 2023


Objective: Older adults experience numerous changes in their social networks and social environment that may worsen preexisting posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. This study tested whether tangible support, appraisal support, belonging support, and self-esteem were associated with trauma symptom burden among community-dwelling older Black and White adults at baseline and over 12 months of follow-up.

Methods: This study used data collected from a randomized controlled trial for depression prevention in adults 50 years of age or older who had subsyndromal depression (2006–2011). Two hundred forty-four participants (including 90 older Black adults) were randomly assigned to a problem-solving therapy arm or an active control arm. The Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (ISEL) was administered at baseline and 12 months later. Linear regression analysis was used to examine associations of each of the ISEL dimensions with DSM-IV–defined PTSD symptoms at baseline and over time, with control for well-established correlates of PTSD including depression, anxiety, and sleep quality.

Results: Participants were a mean (SD) of 65.6 (11.0) years of age, and 71% percent were female. Belongingness support was the only dimension of interpersonal support significantly associated with PTSD symptoms at baseline (β = −0.192, t = −3.582, P < .001) and 12 months later (β = −0.183, t = −2.735, P < .01). Regression models accounted for a large proportion of variance in PTSD symptoms. The association between belongingness support and PTSD symptoms did not vary by participant race.

Conclusions: A strong perception of belongingness to family and/or friends was associated with fewer PTSD symptoms at baseline and over 12 months. This observation generates the hypothesis that behavioral interventions which directly target and modify interpersonal support may benefit both older Black and older White adults who have experienced trauma.

Trial Registration: identifier: NCT00326677

Volume: 84

Quick Links:

Continue Reading…

Subscribe to read the entire article


Buy this Article as a PDF