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The protective role of secure attachment in the relationship between experiences of childhood abuse, emotion dysregulation and coping, and behavioral and mental health problems among emerging adult Black women: A moderated mediation analysis

J Psychopathol Clin Sci. 2022 Jul 28. doi: 10.1037/abn0000772. Online ahead of print.


To determine the extent to which secure attachment moderates the effects of previous child abuse history on the intermediate variables (putative mediators) of emotion dysregulation and coping, which, in turn, influence adult behavioral health and mental health problems. Black women (N = 440, M age = 20.33, SD = 1.88) were selected from the baseline data collection of a large, randomized trial. Study participants had consumed alcohol, had had unprotected sex in the last 90 days, and either reported abuse prior to age 18 or no lifetime history of abuse. Women completed measures of sociodemographics, abuse history, attachment security, coping, emotion dysregulation, psychological functioning, risky sexual behavior, and substance use problems. At low attachment security, the conditional indirect effects of childhood abuse through the intermediate variable, coping, were statistically significant for all dependent variables except proportion condom use and perceived stress. At high attachment security, none of the conditional indirect effects through coping achieved statistical significance. High attachment security also mitigated the conditional indirect effects of childhood abuse through the intermediate variable, emotion dysregulation, reducing the magnitude of the relationship with trait anger, depression, marijuana problems, and perceived stress by about 50%. These results demonstrate the potential mitigating effects of secure attachment on the relationship between childhood abuse history and select behavioral and mental health problems through the intermediate variables of coping and emotional dysregulation. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

PMID:35901415 | DOI:10.1037/abn0000772

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