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Correlates of Cognitive Flexibility in Veterans Seeking Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Keith, Jessica PhD; Velezmoro, Rodrigo PhD; O’Brien, Carol PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: April 2015 - Volume 203 - Issue 4 - p 287–293
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000280
Original Articles

This study examined the association between cognitive flexibility and variables that may be associated with treatment outcome for 579 veterans seeking Veterans Health Administration treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) secondary to combat or sexual trauma. Factors associated with severity of PTSD (level of PTSD symptoms and guilt cognitions) and with PTSD prognosis (posttraumatic growth and optimistic expectations for the future) were examined. Regression analyses revealed that cognitive flexibility was associated with lower levels of PTSD symptoms and fewer guilt cognitions. Cognitive flexibility was positively associated with posttraumatic growth and optimistic expectations for the future, even when controlling for PTSD severity. These results suggest that interventions designed to increase cognitive flexibility in veterans may be a worthwhile adjunct to treatment for PTSD as we continue efforts to improve treatment outcomes.

Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Bay Pines, FL.

This material is the result of work supported with resources and the use of facilities at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, Department of Veterans Affairs, Bay Pines, Florida. The contents of this paper do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.

Send reprint requests to Jessica Keith, PhD, PTSD Programs, Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, 10000 Bay Pines Boulevard, Bay Pines, FL 33744. E-mail:

Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.