TRAUMA, TRAUMA SEQUELAE, AND SUBSTANCE USE IN COLLEGE
READ, JENNIFER P Principal Investigator
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The literature shows that a significant number of young adults report trauma exposure and associatedtraumatic stress sequelae by the time they enter into college. Other students will be exposed to trauma andexperience resulting sequelae during their college experience. Epidemiological and clinical literature haslinked the etiology and course of trauma, traumatic stress sequelae (TSS), and substance use (SUB). Thislink may be understood from a Social Learning (SLT) framework which views substance use as an effort tocope with psychological distress associated with ongoing traumatic sequelae. Further, SLT posits that thesephenomena are reciprocally related, and are affected by individual and environmental factors. Despite highrates of trauma, TSS,and SUB in college populations, theoretically guided, prospective examination of theseassociations and factors affecting their course in college students have been curiously absent in theempirical literature. This research seeks to provide a theoretically guided investigation of the dynamic course of traumaticstress sequelae and alcohol, illicit drugs, and tobacco use in college students. On-line survey data will becollected in 6 waves in the first year and 4 waves each year for the subsequent years. Data will be collectedat two public universities. Students at SUNY Buffalo and UNC Greensboro will be contacted by e-mail in thesummer prior to matriculation and will be screened via web-based survey for trauma exposure and traumaticstress sequelae. Based on this screening, a sample of 1,004 (TSS and non-TSS) students will be targetedfor follow-up. Using web technology, students will be surveyed first in the Fall semester of each year incollege, and will be assessed multiple times each year of the study. Prospective associations among trauma,TSS, and substance use trajectories will be examined using latent growth curve modeling. Mediators (self-efficacy) and moderators (gender, coping, social influences) will be tested consistent with Social LearningTheory, and other relevant theoretical frameworks. The impact of trauma and TSS on university drop-outrates also will be examined. This research will help to shape understanding of the TSS-SUB association, andto inform the development of targeted substance use interventions for college students. Findings also willoffer valuable information for university administrators regarding student attrition and retention.