Author

Megan Cherry

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Melanie Lantz

Abstract

Among college students, trauma and PTSD symptomatology are associated with negative consequences (e.g., poor academic performance, stress sensitivity, and negative coping). College is often a stressful time, and those who have experienced trauma, particularly those experiencing PTSD symptoms, are vulnerable to heightened stress sensitivity and negative outcomes. It is imperative to identify interventions that decrease stress for trauma-exposed college students to reduce the deleterious effects of related outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine whether emotion regulation and non-judgment could be enhanced in trauma-exposed college students through a short, mindfulnessbased intervention, and whether the intervention would lead to decreased perceived and academic stress. It was proposed that the intervention would contribute to increased emotion regulation and non-judging, resulting in decreased perceived and academic stress, and that the intervention would be significant and substantial for participants with subthreshold PTSD symptomatology, but not for those with PTSD symptomatology above the diagnostic cutoff. The final sample included 209 trauma-exposed college students randomly assigned to mindfulness or control groups. The mindfulness group completed three sessions with an assessment after each, and an assessment three-weeks post-intervention. The present study found that a brief, mindfulness-based intervention reduced academic and perceived stress through increasing emotion regulation and nonjudging in trauma-exposed college students. The effects of the intervention on perceived stress were significant only for participants with subthreshold PTSD symptomatology. iv The results of the present study suggest that a brief mindfulness-based intervention may have helpful effects for trauma-exposed college students; implications for research and practice will be discussed.

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