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First Advisor

Paul Toro


Urban adolescents, especially those who have experienced homelessness, may be particularly vulnerable to developing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to the prevalence and severity of stressors they experience. The purposes of this study were to examine the prevalence rates of PTSD within a sample of homeless and matched housed adolescents from a major metropolitan area, to identify whether several social and environmental factors were associated with increased PTSD symptomatology, to identify whether PTSD symptomatology in these youth was associated with negative outcomes of Psychological Distress and Alcohol and Drug Use and Abuse symptoms over time, and to examine several potential buffering variables that may moderate the relationship between Community Violence Exposure and PTSD, as well as between PTSD symptomatology and the aforementioned negative outcomes at follow-up. High rates of diagnosable PTSD (23.7%) were found in this sample of urban youth. As predicted, homeless youth evidenced significantly more PTSD symptoms and reported greater severity of PTSD symptomatology. Higher community violence exposure was significantly associated with more severe PTSD symptomatology. PTSD symptomatology was associated with more psychological distress symptoms at the six-month follow-up. None of the variables tested were found to significantly moderate the relationship between community violence exposure and PTSD, nor between PTSD and subsequent Psychological Distress symptoms nor Alcohol and Drug use and Abuse symptoms at follow-up. These results suggest that urban and urban homeless youth are particularly at-risk for developing PTSD symptomatology and the associated negative outcome of subsequent increased psychological distress.

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