Posttraumatic stress symptoms, coping, and physical health status among university students seeking health care

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Abstract

This study examined posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, coping, and physical health status in students reporting a trauma history (N = 138) using structural equation modeling. Participants completed questionnaires assessing PTSD symptoms, coping specific to health-related and trauma-related stressors and physical health. After accounting for coping with health-specific problems, trauma-specific avoidance coping was uniquely associated with poorer health status. Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms were associated with poorer physical health status, controlling for age, health behaviors, and other psychopathology. In addition, the effect of PTSD symptoms on poorer health status was mediated by health- and trauma-specific avoidance coping. Results suggest that university health centers should screen for PTSD and consider psychoeducational programs and coping skills interventions for survivors of trauma.

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