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Trauma Exposure and the Health of Women in Three Countries

The purpose of this study was to describe the number, type, and timing of trauma exposures in community-based samples of women in the US, Colombia, and Hong Kong and to explore the association between trauma exposure and physical and psychological health. The project built upon established partnerships among a cadre of nurse-researchers (“Enfermeras del Anillo del Pacifico en Investigación sobre Violencia de Pareja” [EAPIVP]) studying the health effects of intimate partner violence for women of the Pacific Rim.

Trauma is defined as events involving “actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others”.The event may be directly experienced, witnessed, or only learned about after the fact. Commonly studied types of trauma exposures include combat, childhood sexual abuse, natural disasters, violent crime, and intimate partner violence. National studies in the United States estimate that 50% to 70% of women have been exposed to at least one traumatic event3-6. However, the majority of the research has been conducted with men (i.e., veterans or first responders), is limited to the US, and does not address the detrimental health sequelae of these exposures.

To address the study aims data were collected from a community-based sample of women (N = 574) in Medellín, Colombia (n = 215), Calí, Colombia (n = 159), San Francisco, USA (n = 100), and Hong Kong, China (n = 100). Data on lifetime trauma exposure were collected using the appropriate language version of the LSC-R and the Brief Symptom Inventory. Demographic data were collected using an investigator-developed demographic sheet translated by native speakers. Data analysis is still ongoing.

Additional Members: 
  • Tulia Uribe
  • Diva Jaramillo
  • Agnes Tiwari
  • Gladys Canaval
  • Ruth Belknap
  • Maria Eugenia Flores Mendoza
Published Results: 

Schumacher, A., Jaramillo, D., Uribe, T., Bernal de Pheils, P., Holzemer, W., Taylor, D., Tiwari, A., Canaval, G., Flores, M. M., Belknap, R., & Humphreys, J. (2010). The relationship of two types of trauma exposure to current physical and psychological symptom distress in a community sample of Colombian Women: Why interpersonal violence deserves more attention. Health Care for Women International, 31, 946 - 961. PMID: 20835943

Humphreys, J., Bernal de Pheils, P., Slaughter, R. E., Uribe, T., Jaramillo, D., Tiwari, A., et al. (2011). Translation and adaptation of the Life Stressor Checklist-Revised with Colombian women. Health Care for Women International, 32, 599-612. PMID: 21728882