Changes in Functioning Following Potentially Traumatic Life Events in College Students

Samantha L. Anders, Patricia A Frazier, Sandra L. Shallcross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to compare undergraduate students who were exposed over the previous 2 months to a wide range of potentially traumatic life events (PTE) to those who were not exposed on changes in functioning on a broad range of outcomes (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, distress, life satisfaction, world assumptions). Undergraduate students from a Midwestern university (n = 842) and community college (n = 242) completed online measures of outcomes at Time 1 (T1) and recent event exposure and outcomes at Time 2 (T2), 2 months later. 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. 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 they reported more reliable change in outcomes. Overall, however, the amount of change in the PTE group was small. (PsycINFO Database Record

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
StateAccepted/In press - Oct 14 2013


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