Sexual Assault Survivors' Reactions to a Thought Suppression Paradigm

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Abstract

Trauma survivors may experience harm from participating in research on sensitive topics. The current study assessed reactions of sexual assault survivors with and without symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) immediately following an experimental thought suppression task and at a 2- to 4-week follow-up period, by asking open-ended questions regarding thoughts about the experiment, feelings following the experiment, and willingness to participate in similar experiments. At both time periods, most participants reported neutral/positive thoughts (e.g., “interesting”) and feelings (e.g., “fine, good”) and indicated that they would participate in a similar study. Findings suggest that the majority of sexual assault survivors were not harmed in the short- or long-term by participation in a thought suppression paradigm in which the target of suppression/expression was their own trauma.

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