Patterns of Trauma Exposure in Childhood and Adolescence and Their Associations With Behavioral Well-Being

Christian M. Connell, Samantha L. Pittenger, Jason M. Lang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The majority of youth living in the United States experience a potentially traumatic event (PTE) by 18 years of age, with many experiencing multiple PTEs. Variation in the nature and range of PTE exposure differentially impacts youth functioning, although this association is poorly understood. We used latent class analysis (LCA) to identify patterns of PTE exposure from caregiver and youth report in a treatment-seeking sample of children and adolescents (N = 701) and examined how these patterns predict youths’ behavioral health outcomes. We identified four classes based on both caregiver and youth reports of PTE exposure, with the best-fitting model representing a constrained measurement model across reporters; these included high polyvictimization, moderate polyvictimization (general), moderate polyvictimization (interpersonal), and low polyvictimization classes. Prevalence of classes varied across reporters, and agreement in classification based on caregiver and youth report was mixed. Despite these differences, we observed similar patterns of association between caregiver- and youth-reported classes and their respective ratings of posttraumatic stress disorder and depressive symptoms, as well as both caregiver and therapist ratings of problem behavior, with Cohen's d effect size estimates of significant differences ranging from d = 0.25 to d = 0.51. The PTE exposure classes did not differ with respect to ratings of child functioning. Findings highlight the importance of gathering information from multiple informants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)518-528
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of traumatic stress
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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