Individual and Social Risk and Protective Factors as Predictors of Trajectories of Post-traumatic Stress Symptoms in Adolescents

Toria Herd, Ann Christin Haag, Claire Selin, Lindsey Palmer, S. Sunshine, Sienna Strong-Jones, Yo Jackson, Heather E. Bensman, Jennie G. Noll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The present study elucidates heterogeneity in post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) across adolescence in a sample of youth who have experienced myriad types and combinations of potentially traumatic events (PTEs), including substantiated physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and/or at least one other self-reported PTE. A machine learning technique was used to assess a multivariate set of variables (e.g., PTEs, individual risk and protective factors, social risk and protective factors, and racial and ethnic minority status) as predictors of PTSS trajectory group membership. The sample included 498 maltreated (n = 275) and comparison (n = 223) 14-19-year-old female adolescents (M = 15.27, SD = 1.06 at Time 1) assessed annually until age 19. 45.7% of participants were White, 45.3% Black, 0.4% Native American, 0.8% Hispanic, and 7.7% other. Growth mixture modeling identified three distinct trajectories of PTSS: (1) recovery (56%); (2) moderate, chronic (25%); and (3) high, chronic (19%). An elastic net model was used to test predictors of membership in the recovery versus the high, chronic PTSS trajectory groups. Results demonstrated that the recovery trajectory was characterized by the absence of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and other traumas, higher self-esteem, less affective dysregulation, less risky peers, lower levels of parent depression, and being of racial/ethnic minority status. Findings help to characterize individual variation in trajectories of PTSS following PTEs by underscoring the unique trauma responses of racial and ethnic minority youth and offering possible targets of interventions to promote recovery from PTSS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1739-1751
Number of pages13
JournalResearch on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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