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The buffering role of higher romantic relationship satisfaction on the association of hazardous drinking with PTSD and depression symptoms among female military service members/veterans

APA Citation:

Blais, R. K., Hess, R. A., & Serang, S. (2021). The buffering role of higher romantic relationship satisfaction on the association of hazardous drinking with PTSD and depression symptoms among female military service members/veterans. Addictive Behaviors, 123, 107081. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2021.107081

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined whether relationship satisfaction may weaken the negative effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressive symptoms on hazardous drinking (i.e., consuming more than 4 drinks in a week) among a sample of 584 women Service members and Veterans. In addition, separate analyses were conducted for specific PTSD symptoms, such as negativity (i.e., negative thoughts and mood), and depressive symptoms, such as somatic symptoms (e.g., poor sleep or eating). In general, relationship satisfaction appeared to weaken the associations of PTSD symptoms and depressive symptoms with hazardous drinking.


Substance use
Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Secondary Analysis
Cross sectional study
Quantitative Study


Blais, Rebecca K., Hess, Ryan A., Serang, Sarfaraz


Studies show that more positive relationship satisfaction can mitigate the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression severity on hazardous drinking in military samples. However, past studies were not circumscribed to female service members/veterans (SM/V), who represent the fastest growing demographic in the military. Moreover, studies did not examine moderators of specific symptom clusters of PTSD and depression with hazardous drinking. Indeed, recent studies have shown that the more depressive and cognitive clusters are associated with greater dysfunction. The current study extended this literature in a convenience sample of 584 female SM/V who completed self-report measures of hazardous drinking, PTSD, depression, and relationship satisfaction. PTSD or depression severity, relationship satisfaction, and their interaction, were examined as correlates of hazardous drinking after accounting for relationship, demographic, and military characteristics. For both overall PTSD and depression severity, higher relationship satisfaction weakened their association with hazardous drinking. Such results were consistent when global scores were replaced with PTSD-related negative alterations in cognitions and mood and somatic depression symptom clusters, but not for PTSD-related dysphoric arousal, anhedonia, or non-somatic depression symptom clusters. Findings suggest that to lessen the association of PTSD or depressive symptoms with problematic drinking, interventions aimed at improving relationship satisfaction may be worth considering among women in relationships. Moreover, symptom cluster analyses show that the cognitive and depressive components of PTSD, as well as the physical symptoms of depression, are most problematic, pinpointing specific areas of function on which to intervene.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Utah State University, RKB
VA Northern Indiana Health Care System, RAH
Utah State University, SS


depression, hazardous drinking, military, PTSD, relationship satisfaction, women

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  June 2022

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