Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating disorder that develops in some people following a traumatic event. Latinx communities in the U.S. are at greater risk of developing this disorder and experiencing more severe and chronic symptomology. This population has also been found to experience greater levels of dissociative experiences – possibly explaining the increased conditional risk for PTSD in this ethnic group. It remains unclear what may be connecting the experience of peritraumatic dissociation to heightened PTSD risk. The current study sought to address this gap in the literature by examining peritraumatic dissociation and the interplay between sociocultural and biological factors acutely following a traumatic injury. A sample of 52 Latinx, traumatically injured patients were recruited. In the acute aftermath of the trauma, participants provided blood samples, HRV measurements, and completed self-report measures assessing peritraumatic dissociation, PTSD symptoms, acculturative stress, fatalism, and familism. Moderated-mediational analyses were conducted to examine the ability of biological variables to mediate the relationship between peritraumatic dissociation and PTSD symptoms, while also considering the moderating influence of each cultural factor on the biological variable – PTSD symptoms pathway. After adjusting for psychiatric history and time of cortisol collection, results were non-significant. However, post-hoc analyses revealed notable findings regarding peritraumatic dissociation and acculturative stress. Results extend previous research by contributing to the understanding of unique cultural experiences and how this may be underlying greater risk for PTSD in Latinx populations. The current study is the first to examine risk for PTSD from an integrative perspective in a Latinx sample.