Self-efficacy is assumed to promote posttraumatic adaption, and several cross-sectional studies support this notion. However, there is a lack of prospective longitudinal studies to further illuminate the temporal relationship between self-efficacy and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Thus, an important unresolved research question is whether posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms affect the level of self-efficacy or vice versa or whether they mutually influence each other. The present prospective longitudinal study investigated the reciprocal relationship between general self-efficacy (GSE) and posttraumatic stress symptoms in 143 physical assault victims. We used an autoregressive cross-lagged model across four assessment waves: within 4 months after the assault (T1) and then 3 months (T2), 12 months (T3) and 8 years (T4) after the first assessment. Stress symptoms at T1 and T2 predicted subsequent self-efficacy, while self-efficacy at T1 and T2 was not related to subsequent stress symptoms. These relationships were reversed after T3; higher levels of self-efficacy at T3 predicted lower levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms at T4, while posttraumatic tress symptoms at T3 did not predict self-efficacy at T4. In conclusion, posttraumatic stress symptoms may have a deteriorating effect on self-efficacy in the early phase after physical assault, whereas self-efficacy may promote recovery from posttraumatic stress symptoms over the long term.
This item's license is: Attribution 4.0 International