Mediating effect of stress on the association between early trauma and psychological distress in Korean college students: a cross-sectional observational study

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Abstract

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What is known on the subject?

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What does this paper add to existing knowledge?

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What are the implications for practice?

Introduction:

Research has shown that early trauma and stress may affect current psychological distress. However, few studies have attempted to address the mediation of stress between early trauma and psychological distress.

Aim:

This cross-sectional observational study aimed to examine the mediating effects of stress on the association between early trauma and psychological distress in Korean college students.

Method:

Participants included 216 college students (51.4% male) who completed self-report questionnaires assessing early trauma, college life stress, and psychological distress.

Results:

Early trauma, stress, and psychological distress were significantly correlated. Of the subcategories of early trauma, emotional abuse was most highly correlated with stress and psychological distress. The bootstrapping results indicate that stress is a partial mediator between early trauma and psychological distress after controlling for covariates including socioeconomic status, habitation status, and gender.

Discussion:

The results imply that both early trauma and stress should be considered when developing interventions for college students' mental health. However, individuals with trauma exposure tend to have difficulties disclosing their traumatic event. Therefore, we suggest that stress management may be more feasible and effective in promoting college students' mental health than trauma-focused interventions.

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