Trauma, Emotional Regulation, and Coping Styles in Individuals with and without Probable Dissociative Disorders in Hong Kong

Stanley Kam Ki Lam, Cherry Tin Yan Cheung, Wai Tong Chien, Colin A Ross, Bonnie Shuk Kwan Po, Vincent Wan Ping Lee*, Hong Wang Fung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Previous studies showed that dissociation and dissociative disorders (DDs) are prevalent and are associated with considerable individual and social consequences. There are ongoing debates regarding whether dissociation is a response to betrayal trauma across cultures and whether dissociation can be explained by maladaptive coping. Additionally, little is known about the clinical features of individuals with DDs in the Chinese context. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between trauma, emotional regulation, coping, and dissociation. We analyzed baseline data from a randomized controlled trial (N = 101). Participants with dissociative symptoms in Hong Kong completed self-report assessments. Structured interviews were also conducted subsequently. Participants with probable DDs reported more traumatic events (p = .009 to .017) and exhibited significantly higher levels of dysfunctional coping (p < .001) compared to those who reported dissociative symptoms but did not have a DD. Dissociative symptoms were more strongly associated with betrayal trauma than with non-betrayal trauma. Among different emotion regulation and coping strategies, dysfunctional coping was the only significant factor associated with dissociative symptoms (β = .309, p = .003). Dysfunctional coping was a statistically significant mediator that may explain the relationship between betrayal trauma and dissociative symptoms. Although other mediation paths are also possible and further longitudinal studies are required, our findings highlight the strong link between dysfunctional coping and dissociative symptoms and suggest that coping skills training should be incorporated into interventions for betrayal trauma survivors with dissociative symptoms. Additionally, this study provides evidence for the cross-cultural validity of the betrayal trauma theory. Further studies, however, are required.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Trauma and Dissociation
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Betrayal trauma
  • coping
  • dissociation
  • dissociative disorders
  • emotion regulation


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