Hardiness, avoidance coping, and alcohol consumption in war veterans: A moderated-mediation study

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Military personnel often engage in excessive alcohol use after returning from deployments. Thus far, research has paid scant attention to personality factors that may increase or diminish the risk for increased alcohol consumption in this population. The present study explores how psychological hardiness, avoidance coping, and stress exposure may interact to influence alcohol consumption patterns in soldiers following deployment. U.S. Army National Guard soldiers (N = 357) were surveyed shortly after returning from combat operations in Afghanistan. Conditional process analysis was used to test for mediation and moderation effects. Mediation effects were further tested in a replication sample of Norwegian Army soldiers (N = 230) deployed to Kosovo. Findings show that hardiness is a significant (negative) predictor of increased alcohol use and that this relation is mediated by avoidance coping. Further, this effect was moderated by combat stress exposure in the U.S. sample, such that the mediation is stronger for those with greater exposure (moderated-mediation). Avoidance coping also mediated the effects of hardiness on alcohol consumption in the Norwegian sample. These findings suggest that avoidance coping and hardiness may be fruitful areas for interventions aimed at reducing risky drinking in high-stress groups like the military.

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