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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Kent Burnett

Second Committee Member

Blaine Fowers

Third Committee Member

Ray Winters

Fourth Committee Member

Maria Somoza


Objectives: The relationship between dissociation and PTSS was studied by examining the moderating role of prior trauma. The relationship between prior trauma and PTSS was studied by examining the mediating role of dissociation. The relationship between various coping styles, dissociation and prior trauma was also addressed. Study Design: The current study was a retrospective correlational between-subjects design. Subjects: The study included 90 subjects who were admitted into a level one trauma center following a traumatic physical injury. Results: Dissociation was most strongly and significantly related to PTSS (r = .583). Childhood sexual abuse, childhood physical abuse, and total prior trauma were also significantly related to PTSS (r = .249, r =.298, r = .295, respectively). The results of the study indicated that prior trauma did not moderate the relationship between dissociation and PTSS. The addition of the interaction term (prior trauma X dissociation) explained 3.5% additional variance in PTSS (F(3,82) = 1.10, p = .354). However, the relationship between prior trauma and PTSS was found to be partially mediated by dissociation. The effect of prior trauma on PTSS was reduced when dissociation was added into the regression equations for each of the prior trauma predictor variables including: childhood sexual abuse (b = 9.122 reduced to b = 2.050), childhood physical abuse (b = 1.011 reduced to b = .547), and total prior trauma (b = .114 reduced to b = .055). Dissociation was also found to be significantly related to maladaptive coping including: emotional venting (r = .373), denial (r = .213), and behavioral disengagement (r = .330). Prior trauma was not found to be related to maladaptive coping styles. Conclusions: The study findings suggest that the relationship between prior trauma and PTSS is partially due to the engagement in dissociation. However, those who have not experienced a prior trauma are also at risk for experiencing dissociation and subsequent PTSS. Additionally, dissociation was found to be related to maladaptive coping, while prior trauma was not significantly related to any coping styles. Therefore, the findings suggest that dissociation is related to more disruptive psychological sequelae, as compared to pre-trauma factors such as the experience of prior trauma.


Physical Injury; Dissociation; Prior Trauma; PTSD; ASD