Previous research suggest that rumination and poor social relationships contribute to the maintenance of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) after traumatic events. Less is known about how these factors work together. The aim of this study was to assess the association between ruminative coping style and long-term PTSS, and to determine whether perceived social support and loneliness can protect or potentiate this association, respectively.
This study used cross-sectional data from survivors and bereaved (n = 185) collected 26 years after the 1990 fire on the Scandinavian Star ferry.
Ruminative coping style, perceived social support, and loneliness were all uniquely associated with PTSS. Social support, but not loneliness, moderated the association between ruminative coping style and PTSS.
The 26-year interval between the traumatic event and the data collection mean that we cannot infer how a ruminative coping style, perceived social support, and loneliness could affect PTSS in the early aftermath of disaster.
The results suggest that perceived social support and loneliness play different roles in long-term maintenance of PTSS. Whereas loneliness seem to have a direct association with PTSS, high social support may also protect against the negative effects of a ruminative coping style on PTSS. Social relationships may play a crucial role in recovery from trauma, particularly in individuals with a ruminative coping style.