Trauma experience in children and adolescents: An assessment of the effects of trauma type and role of interpersonal proximity

Maggi Price, Charmaine Higa-McMillan, Sunyoung Kim, B. Christopher Frueh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The psychiatric sequelae associated with childhood experience(s) of trauma is complex and distinguishable from that of adult trauma exposure. Categories of impairment associated with experiences of early trauma include internalizing and externalizing emotional and behavioral problems, posttraumatic stress symptomatology, and dissociation. The present study assessed the relationship between the type of trauma experience (i.e., non-interpersonal or interpersonal) and the manifestation of a wide range of psychiatric symptomatology using prospective longitudinal data from a community sample of ethnically diverse children and adolescents (N=1676; ages 4-18). The study also examined the relationship between different types of trauma experiences (e.g., direct, vicarious, interpersonal) and levels of various symptom domains (e.g., anxiety, posttraumatic stress, conduct problems). A number of factors relevant to the relationship between early trauma experience and subsequent impairment including temperament, socioeconomic status, sex, and age were included in the analyses. Results indicated that interpersonal traumas involving significant interpersonal proximity were associated with externalizing problems (i.e., oppositional defiant and conduct problems). Direct trauma experiences and emotionality were positively associated with almost all symptom domains. Implications for the relationship between trauma and developmental psychopathology are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-660
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2013


  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Externalizing
  • Internalizing
  • Interpersonal trauma
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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