Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Henry, Beverly W.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition faced by many veterans, and veterans with PTSD have higher rates of poor health and obesity than civilians. Evidence suggests mental health issues such as PTSD may be associated with disordered eating behaviors. In addition, veterans with PTSD may select a variety of coping behaviors to manage stress and emotions, some of which may negatively impact their health. This study explored the relationships between coping process, emotion- and stress-related eating, and eating disorder risk among a sample of veterans with PTSD (n = 239) who were recruited through veteran service organizations throughout the United States.

Participants completed Carver’s 28-item Brief COPE, Ozier and colleagues’ 24-item Emotion- and Stress-Related Eating scale of the Eating and Appraisal Due to Emotions and Stress (EADES) Questionnaire, and Garner and colleagues’ 26-item Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26). A principal components analysis (PCA) was conducted on the 14 coping processes of the Brief COPE, revealing a three-component, second-order factor structure of related coping items. Comparing responses from the Brief COPE components of the PCA and the Emotion- and Stress-Related Eating scale of the EADES Questionnaire did not reveal statistically significant relationships. However, a statistically significant relationship was observed between emotion-focused coping (PCA Component 2) and eating disorder risk measured by the EAT-26 (r = .257, p < .05).

Further analysis of the individual Brief COPE coping processes revealed statistically significant relationships between behavioral disengagement, self-blame, and acceptance and emotion- and stress-related eating as measured by the Emotion- and Stress-Related Eating scale of the EADES Questionnaire (r’s = -.153, -.174, .207 respectively, p < .05). In addition, statistically significant relationships were found between denial, venting, planning, and self-blame and eating disorder risk measured by the EAT-26 (r’s = .179, .151, .149, and .258 respectively, p < .05). Body mass index (BMI) most strongly predicted emotion- and stress-related eating, and emotion-focused coping (PCA Component 2) and self-reported history of eating disorder (ED) diagnosis or treatment most strongly predicted eating disorder risk. Results of this study may be beneficial for obesity prevention and mental health intervention efforts for veterans with PTSD. Improving the approach to coping for these veterans may improve overall health and well-being through positive dietary habits that support them during the healing process.


160 pages




Northern Illinois University

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