A comparison of psychiatric outcomes in South African adolescents exposed to single and multiple traumatic stressors
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While there is a growing body of evidence that psychopathology resulting from exposure or victimization to single traumatic stressors is common among adolescents, little is known about the impact of repeated or multiple exposures in South African adolescents. This study examined the impact of exposure to multiple and repeated traumatic stressors in a sample of adolescents from South African schools.This study was a quantitative, quasi-experimental design that drew its data from a larger comparative survey. The larger survey compared traumatic exposure between Kenyan and South African youth. The South African data from 1140 learners was utilized for the present study. The main aim of this study was to investigate whether multiple and/or repeated exposure, rather than single exposure to traumatic events is more likely to be associated with depression and posttraumatic stress disorder in adolescents. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the PTSD checklist were used as the outcome measures.ANOVA was used to establish if there were significant differences on psychiatric sequelae between the single and multiple exposure groups.Results revealed that there were significant differences between single traumatic exposure and multiple traumatic exposures on the outcome measures. There were no significant differences found between the no exposure group and single exposure group. The multiple trauma exposure group scored significantly higher when compared to single exposure group on the PTSD symptoms (mean difference = 2.607; CI= 1.67) of which p < 0.01. Results on the BDI indicated that the multiple exposure group scored more than the single exposure group(mean difference = 4.177; CI = 2.05) of which p < 0.01.The results support the hypothesis that greater traumatic exposure is associated with greater distress. These findings have implications for current conceptualizations of PTSD.