Trauma Type influences Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms through Self-Esteem in a Dutch Student Sample
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There is evidence that low self-esteem is associated with elevated posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) after the experience of trauma. While a lot of research focuses on one type of trauma, there is no research examining to what degree self-esteem influences PTSS in interpersonal compared to non-interpersonal trauma groups. Using data from a Dutch student-sample, this study examines whether trauma type influences PTSS and whether this is mediated by self-esteem. In this crosssectional study, 391 participants completed self-report measures of self-esteem, PTSS and reported what the most impactful negative life event was they experienced. Based on that event, 52 participants were grouped into the interpersonal trauma type and 339 participants were grouped into the non-interpersonal trauma type. Results show that lower rates of self-esteem and higher rates of PTSS are found more often in those who experienced interpersonal trauma in comparison to noninterpersonal trauma. After a series of regression analyses, self-esteem was added to a mediation model which confirmed the hypothesis that self-esteem partially mediates the relationship between trauma type and PTSS, even more so for the interpersonal trauma type. This study highlights the importance of self-esteem after experiencing trauma, especially for the interpersonal type, implicating interpersonal trauma has a more detrimental effect on self-esteem than non-interpersonal trauma. This study implicates the need for enhancing self-esteem in victims of trauma but acknowledge further investigation on how exactly self-esteem functions in both trauma types is needed first.
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