The affective states most strongly associated with nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) remain poorly understood, particularly among veterans. This study used ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to examine relationships between affect ratings and NSSI urges and behaviors among veterans with NSSI disorder.
Participants (N = 40) completed EMA entries via mobile phone for 28 days (3722 total entries). Entries included intensity ratings for five basic affective states, as well as NSSI urges and behaviors, during the past 4 hours.
Bivariate analyses indicated that each affect variable was significantly associated with both NSSI urges and behaviors. Angry/hostile and sad were most strongly associated with both NSSI urges and behaviors. A multivariate regression revealed that angry/hostile, disgusted with self, and happy (inversely related) were contemporaneously (within the same period) associated with NSSI behaviors, whereas all five basic affective states were contemporaneously associated with NSSI urges. In a lagged model, angry/hostile and sad were associated with subsequent NSSI urges but not behaviors.
Findings highlight the relevance of particular affective states to NSSI and the potential utility of targeting anger in treatments for NSSI among veterans. There is a need for future EMA research study to further investigate temporal relationships between these variables.