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Investigating the Relationship Between Distinctive Patterns of Emotion Regulation, Trauma Exposure and Psychopathology Among Refugees Resettled in Australia: A Latent Class Analysis

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Investigating the Relationship Between Distinctive Patterns of Emotion Regulation, Trauma Exposure and Psychopathology Among Refugees Resettled in Australia: A Latent Class Analysis

Philippa Specker et al. Eur J Psychotraumatol.

Abstract

Background: Emotion regulation difficulties are common among individuals from refugee backgrounds. Little is known, however, about whether there are specific patterns relating to the types of emotion regulation strategies commonly employed by refugees, nor how this relates to psychopathology. Moreover, wider literature on emotion regulation has primarily focused on examining specific emotion regulation strategies in isolation, rather than patterns of emotion regulation across multiple strategies. Objective: The current study was the first to identify individual differences in patterns of habitual emotion regulation among refugees, and explore their unique associations with trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms. Method: Levels of trait reappraisal and suppression were measured among 93 refugees, using the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire and the White Bear Suppression Inventory. A latent class analysis was conducted to identify distinct classes of participants based on differing levels of habitual engagement in reappraisal and suppression. The association between class membership and key variables indexing refugee experiences (e.g. trauma exposure) and psychopathology (e.g. PTSD symptoms and emotion dysregulation) were also examined. Results: Latent class analysis revealed three distinct profiles of habitual emotion regulation: a high regulators class (55.7%; high trait reappraisal/high trait suppression), an adaptive regulators class (23.6%; high trait reappraisal/moderate trait suppression), and a maladaptive regulators class (20.6%; low trait reappraisal/high trait suppression). Each class evidenced unique relations with trauma exposure and psychopathology. Compared to adaptive regulators, maladaptive regulators had more PTSD symptoms, experienced greater emotion dysregulation, and were more likely to be female, while high regulators had experienced more types of traumatic events. Conclusions: This study identified distinct patterns of emotion regulation among refugees. Our findings demonstrate the importance of measuring multiple strategies to uncover patterns of emotion regulation and better understand the links between emotion regulation and psychopathology, which has important implications for the development of effective treatment with traumatized refugees.

Keywords: Emotion regulation; latent class analysis; posttraumatic stress disorder; reappraisal; refugees; suppression; trauma exposure; • A latent class analysis of habitual engagement in key emotion regulation strategies (reappraisal and suppression) was conducted among refugees.• Three distinct emotion regulation profiles emerged: high regulators (55.7%; high trait reappraisal/high trait suppression), adaptive regulators (23.6%; high trait reappraisal/moderate trait suppression), and maladaptive regulators (20.6%; low trait reappraisal/high trait suppression).• Compared to adaptive regulators, maladaptive regulators had more PTSD symptoms, while high regulators had been exposed to more types of traumatic events..

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Probabilities of item endorsement for each latent class. Supp 1 to Supp 5 denotes the five items measuring trait suppression, from the WBSI. Reap 1 to Reap 6 denotes the six items measuring trait reappraisal, from the ERQ. The actual items are displayed in Table 4.

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References

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Grant support

The current study was supported by a Project Grant from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (1042882), and A. Nickerson was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Early Career Fellowship (1037091).

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