Psychometric Properties of the PACT Scale and Relations With Symptoms of PTSD

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Abstract

Objective: Healing from trauma has been conceptualized as either facing the trauma head-on or moving beyond the trauma and focusing on the future. Emerging research suggests that the greatest healing may result from the ability to adaptively use both (i.e., coping flexibility). The current study sought to examine the psychometric properties of a self-report scale of coping flexibility: the Perceived Ability to Cope With Trauma (PACT) Scale. Method: Participants included 322 undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory psychology course at a large Midwestern university. Analyses used the PACT’s 2 scales, Trauma Focus and Forward Focus, as well as its flexibility score that is derived from these scales. Confirmatory factor analysis of the PACT was performed in Mplus. Results: The PACT scales demonstrated high internal consistency and convergent validity with measures of experiential avoidance, distress tolerance, self-compassion, perceived stress, and PTSD symptoms. Discriminant validity was demonstrated by nonsignificant relations with fight and flight responding. All 3 PACT scores demonstrated significant relations with PTSD symptom clusters. The 2-factor model of the PACT demonstrated good fit after using item parceling. Conclusion: Overall, the current analyses support and replicate the psychometric properties and construct validity of the PACT as a measure of adaptive trauma-related coping. Further, the PACT scales are significantly negatively related to PTSD symptom clusters, suggesting that the greater one’s perceived ability to use Trauma Focus and Forward Focus skills flexibly, the less severe he or she will experience symptoms of reexperiencing, avoidance/numbing, and hyperarousal. Future applications are discussed.

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