Substance use behaviors as a mediator between posttraumatic stress disorder and physical health in trauma-exposed college students

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Abstract

Introduction

Research within the field of traumatic stress has documented a strong link between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and adverse physical health outcomes, although the mechanisms contributing to this relationship are unclear.

Method

The current study examined substance use behaviors as one such mediator in a mixed civilian trauma population. Participants were 136 undergraduates exposed to a variety of civilian traumas. They completed measures assessing trauma exposure, substance use behaviors, and physical health outcomes.

Results

Moderate correlations were found between PTSD symptom severity, substance use, and adverse health outcomes. Mediational analyses indicated that substance use behaviors, especially alcohol and drug use, mediated the relationship between PTSD and health outcomes.

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