Cumulative exposure to traumatic events in older adults.
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OBJECTIVES: The present study examined the impact of cumulative trauma exposure on current posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity in a nonclinical sample of adults in their 60s. The predictive utility of cumulative trauma exposure was compared to other known predictors of PTSD, including trauma severity, personality traits, social support, and event centrality. METHOD: Community-dwelling adults (n = 2515) from the crest of the Baby Boom generation completed the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire, the PTSD Checklist, the NEO Personality Inventory, the Centrality of Event Scale, and rated their current social support. RESULTS: Cumulative trauma exposure predicted greater PTSD symptom severity in hierarchical regression analyses consistent with a dose-response model. Neuroticism and event centrality also emerged as robust predictors of PTSD symptom severity. In contrast, the severity of individuals' single most distressing life event, as measured by self-report ratings of the A1 PTSD diagnostic criterion, did not add explanatory variance to the model. Analyses concerning event categories revealed that cumulative exposure to childhood violence and adulthood physical assaults were most strongly associated with PTSD symptom severity in older adulthood. Moreover, cumulative self-oriented events accounted for a larger percentage of variance in symptom severity compared to events directed at others. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that the cumulative impact of exposure to traumatic events throughout the life course contributes significantly to posttraumatic stress in older adulthood above and beyond other known predictors of PTSD.
Cumulative Trauma Disorders
Severity of Illness Index
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
Surveys and Questionnaires
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1080/13607863.2013.832730
Publication InfoOgle, Christin M; Rubin, David C; & Siegler, Ilene C (2014). Cumulative exposure to traumatic events in older adults. Aging Ment Health, 18(3). pp. 316-325. 10.1080/13607863.2013.832730. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/9760.
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Juanita M. Kreps Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
For .pdfs of all publications click here My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory and oral tra
Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
My research efforts are in the area of developmental health psychology and organized around understanding the role of personality in health and disease in middle and later life. My primary research activity is as Principal Investigator of the UNC Alumni Heart Study (UNCAHS) a prospective epidemiologic study of 5000 middle aged men and women and 1200 of their spouses that evaluates the role of personality on coronary heart disease and coronary heart disease risk, cancer, and normal a
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