Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Eric Storch, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Vicky Phares, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph Vandello, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin Thompson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alison Salloum, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ross Andel, Ph.D.


physical health, posttraumatic stress disorder, quality of life, traumatic events


Background: The development of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTS) following a traumatic event is related to significant functional impairment, diminished quality of life, and physical health issues. Yet it is not entirely clear why some traumatized individuals experience negative outcomes while others do not. The purpose of this study is to determine the role of several influential factors related to PTS severity and negative outcomes, such as diminished quality of life and physical health issues, following traumatic events. Method: One hundred and twenty-two trauma-exposed adults were recruited through the University of South Florida’s SONA system and through flyers on campus. Subjects were administered the following self-report measures in a counter-balanced manner: the PTSD Checklist-Civilian, the Trauma History Questionnaire-Short, The Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3, Depression and Anxiety Stress Scale 21, Sheehan Disability Scale, WHOQOL-BREF, and the Economic Impact Questionnaire-Revised. Results: Posttraumatic stress symptom severity was positively correlated with depressive symptom severity, chronicity of the most distressing trauma and number of traumas. Posttraumatic stress symptom severity and anxiety sensitivity were significantly related to all of the outcomes examined including three domains of disability, four domains of quality of life, burden and physical health issues. Main effects were found for PTS severity, anxiety sensitivity, and depressive symptom severity on quality of life domains. Posttraumatic stress symptom severity mediated the relationship between anxiety sensitivity and physical health issues such that the relationship between AS and physical health issues is dependent on PTS severity. Implications: This study helps clarify the role of various factors in the relationship between trauma and negative outcomes. Clinical and research implications are discussed, including early detection of PTS and an increased awareness of the relationship between PTS, anxiety sensitivity and physical health issues.