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Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Among Dutch and Belgian Adolescents: Personality, Stress and Coping

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 August 2015

G. Kiekens*
KU Leuven, Research Group of Psychiatry, Herestraat 49, 3000Leuven, Belgium
R. Bruffaerts
KU Leuven, Research Group of Psychiatry, Herestraat 49, 3000Leuven, Belgium
M.K. Nock
Harvard University, Department of Psychology, 33, Kirkland Street, MA 02138Cambridge, USA
M. Van de Ven
Radboud University Nijmegen, Behavioural Science Institute, Diagnostic Decision Making, P.O. Box 9104, 6500HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands
C. Witteman
Radboud University Nijmegen, Behavioural Science Institute, Diagnostic Decision Making, P.O. Box 9104, 6500HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands
P. Mortier
KU Leuven, Research Group of Psychiatry, Herestraat 49, 3000Leuven, Belgium
K. Demyttenaere
KU Leuven, Research Group of Psychiatry, Herestraat 49, 3000Leuven, Belgium
L. Claes
KU Leuven, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Tiensestraat 102, 3000Leuven, Belgium
*Corresponding author at: Kapucijnenvoer 33 building I, box 7001, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. Tel.: +32 16 33 25 94; fax: +32 16 34 87 00. E-mail address: (G. Kiekens).
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This study examines: (1) the prevalence of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) among Dutch and Belgian adolescents, (2) the associations between Big Five personality traits and NSSI engagement/versatility (i.e., number of NSSI methods), and (3) whether these associations are mediated by perceived stress and coping.


A total of 946 Flemish (46%) and Dutch (54%) non-institutionalized adolescents (Mean age = 15.52; SD = 1.34, 44% females) were surveyed. Measures included the NSSI subscale of the Self-Harm-Inventory, the Dutch Quick Big Five Personality questionnaire, the Perceived Stress Scale and the Utrecht Coping List for Adolescents. Examination of zero-order correlations was used to reveal associations, and hierarchical regression analysis was used to reveal potential mediators which were further examined within parallel mediation models by using a bootstrapping-corrected procedure.


Lifetime prevalence of NSSI was 24.31%. Neuroticism; perceived stress; and distractive, avoidant, depressive, and emotional coping were positively associated with NSSI engagement, whereas Agreeableness, Conscientiousness; and active, social, and optimistic coping were negatively associated with NSSI engagement. Observed relationships between personality traits and NSSI engagement were consistently explained by perceived stress and depressive coping. A higher versatility of NSSI was not associated with any Big Five personality trait, but was associated with higher scores on perceived stress and depressive coping and with lower scores on active and optimistic coping.


Our study suggests that a specific personality constellation is associated with NSSI engagement via high stress levels and a typical depressive reaction pattern to handle stressful life events.

Original article
Copyright © Elsevier Masson SAS 2015

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