Investigation into trauma exposure, emotion regulation, resilience and psychosocial outcomes in older people: a research portfolio
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Objectives: A systematic literature review was conducted to investigate whether aging impacts on emotion regulation and whether there are relationships between aging, emotion regulation and psychosocial outcomes. An empirical study used a cross-sectional quantitative design to examine the nature of trauma exposure in a clinical group of older people. A novel model was developed to investigate the relationship between trauma exposure and psychosocial outcomes and to examine whether emotion dysregulation and resilience had a role in this relationship. Method: The search strategy used in the review identified 15 relevant papers which met the inclusion criteria which were assessed for quality and relevant findings extracted. The empirical study recruited 47 participants from psychological therapy services who completed six self-report measures of trauma exposure, resilience, emotion dysregulation, PTSD symptoms, quality of life, anxiety and depression. A bootstrapped corrected procedure was used to test the indirect effects of resilience and emotion regulation. Results: Results of the review indicated that older people used positive reappraisal more than younger people. Examining the relationship between age, emotion regulation and psychosocial outcomes was difficult because of differences in the nature of relationships investigated, the definition and measurement of variables and additional variables examined. Results of the empirical study indicated trauma exposure to be reported by all participants and to be directly related to PTSD symptoms. Further analysis indicated that emotion dysregulation partially mediated this relationship. Trauma exposure was not directly related to anxiety, depression and quality of life but was indirectly related through emotion dysregulation. Resilience was not found to be associated with trauma exposure. Conclusions: The review highlighted the complexity of the relationship between age, emotion regulation and psychosocial outcomes. Results of the empirical study improved understanding about the nature of trauma exposure in a clinical group of older people. It also supports the importance of emotion dysregulation as an intervening variable in the relationship between trauma exposure and psychosocial outcomes. Clinical practice issues and areas for future research were identified.