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J Trauma Dissociation. 2018 May-Jun;19(3):325-346. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2018.1441354.

PTSD and dissociation symptoms as mediators of the relationship between polyvictimization and psychosocial and behavioral problems among justice-involved adolescents.

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a Department of Psychiatry , University of Connecticut Health Center , Farmington , CT , USA.
b Department of Psychological Science , University of Texas Rio Grande Valley , Edinburg , TX , USA.
c Department of Psychology , University of Utah , Salt Lake City , UT , USA.


Polyvictimization (PV) has been shown to be associated with psychosocial and behavioral impairment in community and high risk populations, including youth involved in juvenile justice. However, the mechanisms accounting for these adverse outcomes have not been empirically delineated. Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociation are documented sequelae of PV and are associated with a wide range of behavioral/emotional problems. This study used a cross-sectional research design and bootstrapped multiple mediation analyses with self-report measures completed by a large sample of justice-involved youth (N = 809, ages 12-19 years old, 27% female, 46.5% youth of color) to test the hypothesis that PTSD and dissociation symptoms mediate the relationship between PV and problems with anger, depression/anxiety, alcohol/drug use, and somatic complaints after controlling for the effects of exposure to violence and adversities related to juvenile justice involvement. As hypothesized, PTSD symptoms mediated the relationship of PV with all outcomes except alcohol/drug use problems (which had an unmediated direct association with PV). Partially supporting study hypotheses, dissociation symptoms mediated the relationship between PV and internalizing problems (i.e., depression anxiety; suicide ideation). Implications are discussed for prospective research demarcating the mechanisms linking PV and adverse outcomes in juvenile justice and other high risk populations.


PTSD; Polyvictimization; adolescents; dissociation; juvenile justice; trauma

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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