Thesis Defense Announcement

College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Thesis Defense of

Hannah Shoemaker

for the Degree of Master of Science

July 9, 2019 at 11:45 AM Psychology Building

Advisor: Kathryn Howell

Contextual Risk and Protective Factors Associated with Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms following Exposure to Trauma

ABSTRACT:There is ample evidence supporting the relationship between trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), with less research on factors that may influence the expression of PTSS following adversity and even fewer studies focused on racial minority samples. The current study examined individual, relational, and environmental factors that may be positively or negatively associated with PTSS following lifetime exposure to PTSD-qualifying events among emerging adults of racial minority status (N = 203). Participants ranged in age from 18 to 25 (Mage = 20.27, SD = 1.95), were predominantly women (84%), and largely self-identified as Black or African American (60%). The Person-Environment Interaction Model (Slaug, Iwarsson, & Björk, 2018) was used to assess the role of individual (e.g., ethnic identity), relational (e.g., social support), and environmental (e.g., community cohesion and community disorder) factors that may be associated with PTSS following trauma exposure. It was hypothesized that: (1) younger participants self-identifying as women and reporting lower income would endorse more PTSS, (2) while accounting for demographic variables, more frequent trauma exposure would be associated with greater PTSS, (3) and while accounting for demographic and trauma frequency variables, increased ethnic identity, higher perceived social support, greater community cohesion, and lower community disorder would be related to lower PTSS among trauma exposed emerging adults. Results from a hierarchical multiple regression indicated that greater social support was related to lower PTSS. These findings highlight the importance of research focused on persons who identify as racial minorities, as well as the need for social support to be integrated into treatment protocols following exposure to adversity.