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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Valerie A. Simon


Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has been associated with PTSD, abuse-related shame, and cortisol dysregulation. Extant research has independently identified a relationship between PTSD and cortisol regulation, as well as between shame and cortisol regulation. The current study looked at the independent and interactive effects of abuse-related shame and PTSD on cortisol response to a trauma focused interview among adolescents with a confirmed history of CSA.This study differs from previous studies in focusing on an adolescent sample and in considering the effects of PTSD and abuse-related shame on cortisol regulation simultaneously rather than seperately. Findings from the current study indicated that abuse-related shame had an unique effect on cortisol recovery but not cortisol reactivity. PTSD did not have a significant effect on cortisol response, and there was no interactive effect between abuse-related shame and PTSD on cortisol response. These findings point to the importance of early identification and intervention of abuse-related shame among adolescents who have experienced CSA. This could prevent or minimize maladaptive psychological and physiological outcomes associated with CSA.

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