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A Comparison of PTSD, AUD, and MDD Symptom Patterns in Different Trauma Types

Elizabeth Crump, Depts. of Biology and Sociology, with Dr. Kaitlin Bountress, Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics

About 66% of college students have been exposed to a traumatic event (Read et al., 2011). Research thus far suggests that interpersonal trauma (IPT; e.g., physical or sexual abuse or assault) is linked to higher risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), variability in PTSD symptom cluster presentation, and comorbidities with substance use compared to accidental trauma (e.g., natural disaster, motor vehicle accident; Kessler et al. 1995; Kelley et al., 2009; Kilpatrick et al. 2000). There is little research investigating the role of trauma type in the expression of symptoms related to PTSD (both overall severity and symptom cluster presentation), Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), and Major Depression (MD) in a representative college population. The first aim of this study was to investigate the relation between trauma type (interpersonal and accidental trauma) and PTSD, AUD, and MD symptoms as well as PTSD symptom cluster presentation (avoidance, arousal, negative thoughts and emotions, and reexperiencing). We also sought to test in an exploratory manner whether there was an association between these symptoms and increased trauma type count (i.e., experiencing both IPT and accidental trauma). Results found that those with IPT exposure experienced the highest rate of all symptom outcomes (excluding MD symptoms and PTSD reexperiencing) and had significantly greater symptom severity as compared to the group with both IPT and accidental exposure. The findings suggest that greater intervention measures should be focused on those who experience IPT trauma due to the greater vulnerability to PTSD, Alcohol Use, and Depressive symptoms.

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Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Kaitlin Bountress, Ph.D.


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

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VCU Undergraduate Research Posters


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A Comparison of PTSD, AUD, and MDD Symptom Patterns in Different Trauma Types