Adolescent distress in traumatic stress research: Data from the National Survey of Adolescents-Replication

Authors

  • Kristyn Zajac,

    Corresponding author
    1. Medical University of South Carolina
    Current affiliation:
    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina
    • National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, 67 President St., MSC861, Charleston, SC 29425
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  • Kenneth J. Ruggiero,

    1. Medical University of South Carolina, and Ralph H. Johnson Veterans, Affairs Medical Center
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, and Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Charleston
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  • Daniel W. Smith,

    1. Medical University of South Carolina
    Current affiliation:
    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina
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  • Benjamin E. Saunders,

    1. Medical University of South Carolina
    Current affiliation:
    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina
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  • Dean G. Kilpatrick

    1. Medical University of South Carolina
    Current affiliation:
    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina
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  • This research was supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant R01 HD046830 (PI: Kilpatrick). Dr. Zajac is supported by NIMH grant T32 MH018869 (PI: Kilpatrick). Dr. Ruggiero is supported by NIMH grant R01 MH81056 (PI: Ruggiero). Views in this article do not necessarily represent those of the NIH.

Abstract

Small numbers of adults report distress in response to traumatic stress surveys. Less is known about adolescent research participants. We examined distress in response to a survey on traumatic stress using data from the National Survey of Adolescents-Replication, a nationally representative sample of 3,614 youth aged 12–17 years. Although 204 (5.7%) adolescents found some questions distressing, only 8 (0.2%) remained upset at the end of the interview, and 2 (<0.1%) wished to speak to a counselor. Adolescents reporting traumatic experiences or mental health problems were significantly more likely to report distress compared to those not endorsing such problems. Significantly more girls (7.5%) reported distress than boys (3.9%). Findings suggest that survey questions about trauma pose minimal risk to adolescents.

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