The aversive impact of exposure to combat and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on family members has been examined mainly among veterans’ partners and offspring. No study has examined secondary traumatization in veterans’ siblings and the role of relationship quality in these links. The present study aimed to assess secondary PTSD symptoms (PTSS) and general distress among siblings of combat veterans, and the role of sibling relationship quality in the association between veterans’ exposure to combat and PTSS and sibling secondary PTSS. A sample of 106 adult dyads of Israeli combat veterans and their closest in age siblings responded to self-report questionnaires in a cross-sectional study design. The rates of sibling secondary PTSS and general distress were relatively low. However, veterans’ exposure to combat and PTSS were positively related to siblings’ secondary PTSS. Importantly, veterans’ PTSS mediated the association between veterans’ exposure to combat and siblings’ secondary PTSS, only among sibling dyads with high levels of warmth and low levels of conflict in their relationship. Furthermore, the inclusion of siblings general distress contributed to heightened sibling secondary PTSS, but only the warmth dimension moderated the link between veterans’ PTSS and siblings’ secondary PTSS. Findings suggest that veterans’ PTSS is implicated in their siblings’ secondary PTSS. Veterans’ PTSS might also serve as a possible mechanism for the links between exposure to combat and siblings’ secondary PTSS. Moreover, relationship quality with a sibling veteran might take a toll in the form of siblings’ secondary PTSS following veteran military service.
- vicarious trauma
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Applied Psychology