Prevalence and effects of life event exposure among undergraduate and community college students

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The purposes of this study were to assess lifetime and recent exposure to various life events among undergraduate and community college students and to assess the relation between event exposure and a broad range of outcomes (i.e., mental and physical health, life satisfaction, grade point average). Undergraduate students from a midwestern university (N=842) and a community college (N=242) completed online measures of lifetime event exposure and outcomes at Time 1 and recent event exposure at Time 2 two months later. Life events assessed included events that did and did not meet the definition of a traumatic event (i.e., posttraumatic stress disorder Criterion A1) in theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(4th ed., text rev.;DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) as well as directly (e.g., own life-threatening illness) and indirectly (e.g., others' illness) experienced events. Students reported experiencing many lifetime and recent Criterion A1 and non-A1 events, and community college students reported more events than did university students. Generally, individuals who reported more lifetime events also reported poorer outcomes (e.g., poorer health). The number of non-CriterionA1 and directly experienced events tended to be more strongly correlated with negative outcomes than were the number of Criterion A1 and indirectly experienced events reported. These findings suggest that non-A1 events are important to assess and can be significantly related to outcomes for students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-457
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Community college students
  • Criterion A1
  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Undergraduate students


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