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Journal of Nursing Scholarship

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Healthcare professionals who provide services in the immediate or long‐term aftermath of traumatic events need to understand the nature and frequency of traumatic events in the lives of women. However, research on trauma exposure in women has only recently begun to assess events other than intimate partner and sexual violence and has not supported direct statistical comparison of cross‐national and cross‐cultural data. The purpose of this descriptive, correlational study was to describe and compare trauma exposure prevalence and type in community‐based samples of women in the United States, Colombia, and Hong Kong.


Women were recruited through posted notices at community health sites, snowball sampling, and online advertisements (N = 576). The Life Stressor Checklist‐Revised (total score range 0 to 30) was used to determine the type and prevalence of trauma exposure. Data were collected by native language members of the research team.


Descriptive statistics were used to summarize demographic characteristics and trauma exposure for the total sample and each community‐based sample (location). Between‐location differences were tested using Fisher's exact tests for categorical measures and general linear models with pairwise a posteriori least squares t‐test for continuous measures. Responses to open‐ended questions were translated and categorized.


Over 99% of women in the total sample reported at least one traumatic life event. The mean number of traumatic life events per participant was 7, ranging from 0 to 24. Although there was consistency in the most commonly reported trauma exposures across locations, the rates of specific events often differed.


Historical, political, geographic, and cultural factors may explain differences in trauma exposure among women in the four locations studied.

Clinical Relevance

This study offers relevant knowledge for providers in diverse locations who provide services to women who have experienced traumatic events and provides evidence for the need for future research to further enhance knowledge of trauma exposure among women, and on the effects of trauma in women's lives.


Accepted version. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, Vol. 49, No. 3 (April 07, 2017): 286-293. DOI. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Used with permission.

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