Traumatic Events Among Undergraduate Students: Prevalence and Associated Symptoms

Patricia A Frazier, Samantha Anders, Sulani Perera, Patricia Tomich, Howard Tennen, Crystal Park, Ty Tashiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


This multisite study assessed the prevalence of exposure to traumatic events and associated symptoms among undergraduate students (N = 1,528) using online surveys. Most students (85%) reported having experienced a traumatic event in their lifetime (Time 1) and 21% reported experiencing an event over a 2-month period during college (Time 2). The most common event reported at both time points was the unexpected death of a loved one. Lifetime exposures to family violence, unwanted sexual attention, and sexual assault were associated with higher current distress levels. When nominated as a worst event, sexual assault was associated with the most posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Events that caused intense fear, helplessness, or horror and those that were intentionally caused were associated with higher distress levels. Total number of lifetime traumas consistently had the highest associations with distress levels. Implications for counseling psychology practice, training, and research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-460
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • trauma
  • undergraduate students


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