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J Trauma Stress. 2014 Jun;27(3):249-56. doi: 10.1002/jts.21914. Epub 2014 May 12.

Prospective trajectories of posttraumatic stress in college women following a campus mass shooting.

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  • 1Northern Illinois University, Department of Psychology, DeKalb, Illinois, USA.


In a sample with known levels of preshooting posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms, we examined the impact of a campus mass shooting on trajectories of PTS in the 31 months following the shooting using latent growth mixture modeling. Female students completed 7 waves of a longitudinal study (sample sizes ranged from 812 to 559). We identified 4 distinct trajectories (n = 660): (a) minimal impact-resilience (60.9%), (b) high impact-recovery (29.1%), (c) moderate impact-moderate symptoms (8.2%), and (d) chronic dysfunction (1.8%). Individuals in each trajectory class remained at or returned to preshooting levels of PTS approximately 6 months postshooting. The minimal impact-resilience class reported less prior trauma exposure (η(2) = .13), less shooting exposure (η(2) = .07), and greater emotion regulation skills than all other classes (η(2) > .30). The chronic dysfunction class endorsed higher rates of experiential avoidance prior to the shooting than the minimal-impact resilient and high impact-recovery classes (η(2) = .15), as well as greater shooting exposure than the high impact-recovery class (η(2) = .07). Findings suggest that preshooting functioning and emotion regulation distinguish between those who experience prolonged distress following mass violence and those who gradually recover.

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