Cumulative Burden of Lifetime Adversities: Trauma and Mental Health in Low-SES African Americans and Latino/as

This study examined the utility of a lifetime cumulative adversities and trauma model in predicting the severity of mental health symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. The authors also tested whether ethnicity and gender moderate the effects of this stress exposure construct on mental health using multigroup structural equation modeling. A sample of 500 low-socioeconomic status African American and Latino men and women with histories of adversities and trauma were recruited and assessed with a standard battery of self-report measures of stress and mental health. Multiple-group structural equation models indicated good overall model fit. As hypothesized, experiences of discrimination, childhood family adversities, childhood sexual abuse, other childhood trauma, and chronic stresses all loaded on the latent cumulative burden of adversities and trauma construct (CBAT). The CBAT stress exposure index in turn predicted the mental health status latent variable. Although there were several significant univariate ethnic and gender differences, and ethnic and gender differences were observed on several paths, there were no significant ethnic differences in the final model fit of the data. These findings highlight the deleterious consequences of cumulative stress and trauma for mental health and underscore a need to assess these constructs in selecting appropriate clinical interventions for reducing mental health disparities and improving human health.

Population of focus: Low-socioeconomic status African American and Latino men and women

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Date: 2015

Journal: Psychological Trauma