Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Exposure to trauma continues to be a pervasive and detrimental experience in the lives of children and adolescents in impoverished, urban communities. This study explored the relationships among trauma, dissociation, and posttraumatic stress in a clinic-referred sample of children and adolescents living in urban poverty. Trauma was investigated broadly, including a range of traumatic experiences, with particular attention given to different types, chronicity, multiple exposures, and severity of trauma. Dissociation was investigated as a mediator, or mechanism of the relationships among trauma and posttraumatic stress symptoms, internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Moderators included gender, age, and adverse experiences. Results confirmed that dissociation significantly mediated the relations among three aspects of trauma (Community Violence Type, Poly-Exposure, and Severity) and posttraumatic stress, and among two aspects of trauma (Community Violence Type and Poly-Exposure) and internalizing symptoms. In the context of high levels of Adverse Experiences, dissociation mediated the relation between three aspects of trauma (Community Violence Type, Poly-Exposure, and Severity) and posttraumatic stress and, among adolescents, dissociation mediated the relation between Maltreatment Type and posttraumatic stress. The current study was one of very few to investigate dissociation as a core determinant in the relation between trauma exposure and negative outcomes in a clinic-referred sample. Additionally, this study undertook the issue of how to conceptualize trauma exposure as a research variable to fully capture the nuances of such a complex and multi-faceted construct.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.