Outcomes of single versus multiple trauma exposure in a screening sample

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Abstract

Most studies ignore prior trauma exposure when evaluating outcomes of target events. This study explored symptom severity associated with different types of traumatic experiences occurring alone and with multiple exposure. The Stressful Life Events Screening Questionnaire categorized 1,909 sophomore women into groups including no trauma exposure, exposure to a serious non-Criterion A event only, exposure to several unique noninterpersonal and interpersonal events, and exposure to multiple interpersonal events. Women with noninterpersonal trauma did not differ from those without trauma on the Trauma Symptom Inventory. Only interpersonal trauma and non-Criterion A events were associated with elevated symptoms; multiple-exposure participants had significantly higher symptoms than all other groups. Complex trauma histories should be accounted for, even in studies of one target event.

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