The purposes of this study were to assess lifetime and recent exposure to potentially traumatic life events (PTE) among undergraduate and community college students, to assess the relation between event exposure and a broad range of outcomes (i.e., mental and physical health, life satisfaction, GPA) and to compare students who were exposed to a PTE to those who were not exposed, on changes in functioning on a broad range of outcomes (e.g., PTSD, distress, life satisfaction, world assumptions). Undergraduate students from a Midwestern university (n = 842) and a community college (n = 242) completed online measures of lifetime event exposure and outcomes at Time 1 (T1) and recent event exposure and outcomes at Time 2 (T2) two months later. PTEs assessed included events that did and did not meet the definition of a traumatic event (i.e., PTSD Criterion A1) in the DSM-IV-TR (APA, 2000) as well as directly (e.g., own life-threatening illness) and indirectly (e.g., others' illness) experienced events. Individuals who experienced an event between T1 and T2 and said that it had caused them considerable or extreme distress made up the PTE group (n = 153). The no PTE group (n = 198) consisted of individuals who either did not experience an event between T1 and T2 or experienced an event that caused them no distress. Students reported experiencing many lifetime and recent Criterion A1 and non-A1 events; community college students reported more events than did university students. Generally, individuals who reported more lifetime events also reported poorer outcomes (e.g., poorer health) at T1. The number of non-Criterion A1 and directly experienced events tended to be more strongly correlated with negative outcomes than were the number of Criterion A1 and indirectly experienced events reported at T1. Controlling for number of lifetime traumas and neuroticism, the PTE group reported significantly more change in mental and physical health symptoms and world assumptions than the no PTE group, and reported more reliable change in outcomes. Overall, however, the amount of change in the PTE group was small.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2012. Major:Psychology. Advisor: Patricia Frazier, Ph.D., vii, 95 pages, appendices A-C.
Anders, Samantha Lee.
A prospective study of potentially traumatic events: associations between types and dimensions of events and outcomes..
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