Date of Graduation

12-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Patricia A. Petretic

Committee Member

Jeffrey M. Lohr

Second Committee Member

Ana J. Bridges

Keywords

Psychology; Physical health outcomes; Resilience; Trauma; Traumatic distress; Women

Abstract

This study examined the role of traumatic distress as a mediator in the relation between trauma exposure and somatic malaise and healthcare utilization. Resilience was examined as a moderator between trauma exposure and somatic malaise and healthcare utilization, then between trauma exposure and traumatic distress. A total of 206 female participants recruited from an obstetrics and gynecology specialty practice completed measures of trauma exposure, traumatic distress, resilience, somatic malaise, and healthcare utilization. Multiple hierarchical regressions were performed to test the hypothesized relations. Results indicated that trauma exposure was a significant predictor of traumatic distress and resilience, and of somatic malaise but not of healthcare utilization. Traumatic distress partially mediated the relation between trauma exposure and somatic malaise. Resilience did not moderate the relation between trauma exposure and somatic malaise or exposure and traumatic distress, but alone significantly predicted each variable and interacted with trauma exposure to account for more variance in the prediction of healthcare utilization. Results confirm trauma exposure as the most significant predictor of health outcomes, though even subclinical traumatic distress mediates the impact of trauma itself. Resilience appears to positively impact coping with psychological and physical distress, yet does not reduce the effects of trauma exposure itself. Implications of findings and future directions are discussed.

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