Perceived control and adjustment to trauma: A comparison across events

Patricia A Frazier, Jason Steward, Heather Mortensen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The relations among measures of perceived control and adjustment were assessed among women who had experienced a sexual assault (n = 135) or sudden bereavement (n = 159) several years previously on average. Perceived control was assessed in terms of past, present, and future control over the trauma, and adjustment was assessed in terms of current symptoms of distress (i.e., depression and anxiety) and posttraumatic stress disorder, and life satisfaction. Levels of distress in both groups were higher than norm group means. The relations between control and adjustment differed across types of control and across events. Present control (i.e., control over the recovery process) was associated with better adjustment in both samples, across all adjustment measures, and after accounting for the effects of other variables (e.g., neuroticism). Past control over the trauma itself generally was unrelated to adjustment. Future control was associated with better adjustment only following sexual assault. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-324
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004


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