Determinants of psychological resistance and recovery among women exposed to assaultive trauma

Heather L. Rusch, Erel Shvil, Sarah L. Szanton, Yuval Neria, Jessica M. Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Women exposed to potentially traumatic events (PTEs) are at high risk for developing psychiatric disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), general anxiety disorder (GAD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and substance-related disorders. However, this risk is not universal. Most women are resistant (i.e., remain asymptomatic), or recover following a brief symptomatic period. This study examined the psychological factors associated with resistant and recovered outcomes in a sample of high-risk women exposed to assault-related PTEs. Method: One hundred and fifty-nine women completed the Life Events Checklist and were administered the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders. This resulted in three groups: (1) no diagnosis (no past or current psychiatric disorder diagnosis; n = 56), (2) past diagnosis (a past psychiatric disorder diagnosis, but none currently; n = 31), and (3) current diagnosis (a current diagnosis of one or more psychiatric disorders; n = 72). Groups were compared on sociodemographics, PTE exposure, psychopathology, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and psychological resilience-related factors. Results: The majority of respondents (79%) did not develop chronic PTSD following assault exposure, and the most common psychiatric outcome was MDD (30%). High endorsement of mastery and social support were associated with the no diagnosis group; and greater reports of mastery and posttraumatic growth were associated with recovery from a past psychiatric disorder. Furthermore, both resilient groups (i.e., no diagnosis and past diagnosis) scored higher on HRQOL measures compared with the current diagnosis group (P < 0.001). Conclusion: Psychological resilience has ramifications to health and well-being, and identifying these factors has potential to inform preventive strategies and treatment interventions for assault exposed women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBrain and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Depression
  • Health
  • MDD
  • Mastery
  • Optimism
  • PTSD
  • Posttraumatic Growth
  • RRID:rid_000042
  • Resilience
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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