Thesis Defense Announcement

The College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Thesis of

Caroline Kaufman

for the Degree of Master of Science

on April 3, 2018 at 1:00 PM, Psychology Building.

Advisor: Idia B. Thurston

Patterns of Mental Health and their associations with Spirituality in Women Exposed to Adversity

ABSTRACT:Urban women of color are at high risk of experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Both IPV and HIV are individually associated with negative psychological outcomes. Spirituality, on the other hand, has been linked to positive psychological functioning. There is a gap in our understanding of the relationship between psychological outcomes and spirituality among women survivors of IPV and women living with HIV. This study aimed to understand how patterns of mental health relate to spirituality in women exposed to physical (HIV) and socioemotional (IPV) adversities. Guided by syndemic theory, the present study interviewed 183 women from May 2014-December 2015 who were exposed to recent IPV and/or were living with HIV. Women were recruited from community organizations in the U.S. Midsouth. Participants completed measures of demographics, IPV severity, HIV status, spirituality, depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. We used latent profile analysis to identify patterns of mental health (based on anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress scores) and examined associations between these profiles and spirituality. Four profiles emerged: "Very Low Distress," "Low Average Distress," "High Average Distress," and "Very High Distress." Women in the Very Low and Low Average Distress groups reported significantly higher spirituality than women in the High Average and Very High Distress groups. Women experiencing multiple adversities were more likely to be in the Low Average Distress and High Average Distress groups than the Very Low Distress group. Black women were more likely to be in the Very High Distress class than the Low Average Distress class. These findings offer novel contributions to the literature by bringing to light the cumulative impact of mental health distress among women exposed to adversity and connecting these experiences to a potentially mutable protective factor of spirituality. Findings suggests that interventions aimed at improving mental health among women exposed to adversity could incorporate spiritual elements to facilitate adaptive functioning.