Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

Title

An Initial Evaluation of a School-Based Psychoeducational Program Teaching Adolescents to Cope with Traumatic Stressors

Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Psychology/Clinical

First Advisor

Eric Dubow (Advisor)

Second Advisor

David Jackson (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

William Donnelly (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Marie Tisak (Committee Member)

Abstract

The present study was an initial evaluation of the efficacy of Coping 10.1, a school-based intervention designed to provide psychoeducation about traumatic stress and promote adolescents’ knowledge and utilization of adaptive coping and problem-solving skills. Evidence-based and trauma-informed practices were tailored to generate a 12-session curriculum designed to teach physical relaxation, positive distraction, emotional expression and regulation, social support, and cognitive coping. These skills were applied to six traumatic stressors: community violence, family violence, family mental illness and substance abuse, discrimination, poverty, and traumatic loss. Two hundred nineteen tenth grade students from a career-technical school were assigned to an immediate- (n = 169) or delayed-intervention group (n = 50) during the fall of 2013. Students completed pre- and post- evaluations assessing their self-efficacy for implementing adaptive coping skills and the frequency with which they reported using targeted coping strategies in response to a peer stressor encountered recently.

I hypothesized that students in the immediate-intervention group would demonstrate greater improvements in self-efficacy and self-reported use of adaptive coping skills after receiving the program as compared to students in the delayed-intervention group who did not yet receive the program. In addition, I expected that students in the delayed-intervention group would demonstrate significant increases in self-efficacy and self-reported use of adaptive coping skills and a significant decrease in self-reported use of involuntary disengagement coping after receiving the program.

Results indicated that students in the immediate-intervention group did not demonstrate greater improvements in their self-efficacy or self-reported use of adaptive coping strategies than students in the delayed-intervention group at the end of the fall semester. Analyses of pre-intervention to post-intervention changes in self-efficacy within each group indicated that students in the immediate-intervention group did not improve in their self-efficacy to implement coping strategies after receiving the program and actually reported less self-efficacy with positive distraction and seeking social support after receiving the program. However, students in the immediate-intervention group demonstrated significant increases in their self-reported use of Primary Control Engagement Coping, cognitive restructuring, distraction, emotional regulation, and emotional expression, as well as a marginally significant increase in Secondary Control Engagement Coping after receiving the program.

Results also revealed that students in the delayed-intervention group demonstrated a significant increase in self-efficacy with positive distraction, as well as marginally significant increases in self-efficacy with cognitive restructuring and total self-efficacy after receiving the program during the spring semester. Moreover, students in the delayed-intervention group demonstrated only a marginally significant increase in their self-reported use of cognitive restructuring, but no other significant increases in coping.

Implications for primary prevention programs focusing on promoting self-efficacy and adaptive coping skills are discussed.

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