241471 Positive Traits versus Previous Trauma: Racially Different Correlates with PTSD Symptoms among Hurricane Katrina-Rita Volunteers

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 11:00 AM

Amy Ai, PhD , Department of Social Work, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Hoa Bui Appel, PhD, MPH , Researcher, Researcher, Everett, WA
Catherine Lemieux, PhD, MSW , School of Social Work, Lousiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Grace Heo, PhD , Department of Social Work, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH
This study compared risks and protective factors for acquiring symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) between African American (N=299) and European American (N=206) student volunteers three months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (H-KR). Women (88.6%) constituted the majority of participants. The average age was 30.1. Respondents retrospectively provided information on peri-traumatic emotional reactions and previous trauma that were recalled by H-KR and H-KR stressors. PTSD symptoms were assessed with the 17-item Modified PTSD Symptom Scale that assesses the 17 DSM-IV symptoms of PTSD. Participants indicated how often they currently experienced each symptom on a 4-level scale (0= Not at all or only one time, 3= 5 or more times a week). Positive Attitudes consisted of two indicators: Hope and Optimism, assessed with the Hope Scale and the Life Orientation Test, with eight items each. Participants rated on two 5-level scales how they felt about each item during the past month. Strength of Faith was assessed with selected questions from the Three-Factor Religiosity Scale. African American respondents reported higher levels of symptoms and higher rates of recollection of prior traumas during H-KR than did their European American counterparts. Hierarchical regression analyses found that previous trauma recollections predicted symptoms among European Americans but not among African Americans. Disaster related stressors, however, affected African Americans more than they affected European Americans. While negative emotions had negative outcomes for both groups, positive emotions and hope served as protective factors for African Americans.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify four risk factors in trauma psychology. 2. Discuss the mental health differences and mental health protective factors in workers and professionals who were exposed to traumatizing crises. 3. Identify the racial differences in protective traits among volunteers and professionals in trauma situations

Keywords: Community Collaboration, Psychological Indicators

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I worked with Dr. Ai on the study's write up.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.