Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
The experience of potentially traumatizing events (PTEs) may be associated with conflicting outcomes: individuals may experience greater psychological distress (dose-response theory), or individuals may become more resilient against repeated PTEs (stress-inoculation theory). With limited empirical data comparing these theories, we examined the relationships between the count of lifetime PTE types and psychological outcomes [posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, impaired distress tolerance] using linear and quadratic regressions. A linear relationship would support the dose-response theory, and a quadratic relationship would support the stress-inoculation theory. We also explored whether there was a threshold number of PTE types fostering resiliency before an increase of distressing outcomes. The sample included 123 (68.30% female) treatment-seeking patients at a community mental health center participating in a larger study (Contractor et al. in Psychiatry Research, 252, 252215–252222, 2017). Linear regression results indicated number of PTE types significantly predicted increasing PTSD and depression severity and distress tolerance difficulties. Quadratic regression model results were not significant. ROC analyses indicated exposure to at least 3.5 PTE types predicted PTSD with moderate accuracy. In conclusion, the dose-response theory was supported, with results indicating there may be a threshold count of lifetime PTE types (> 3) influencing traumatic stress outcomes.
Gerber, Monica M.; Frankfurt, Sheila B.; Contractor, Ateka A.; Oudshoorn, Kelsey; Dranger, Paula; and Brown, Lily A., "Influence of Multiple Traumatic Event Types on Mental Health Outcomes: Does Count Matter?" (2018). Psychology Faculty Publications. 66.