Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Matthew Magee

Second Advisor

Betty Lai


This study examines the relationship between prior trauma and post disaster psychological distress in a sample of college students (n = 324) exposed to Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas in 2017. College students receive treatment for psychological problems at very low rates, so screening for the most vulnerable students after a disaster is important. While the relationship between prior trauma and post-disaster psychological distress is well established, the evidence for prior disaster exposure as risk factor outside of other trauma is mixed. Prior trauma was divided into two cumulative risk style indicators: prior traumatic experiences (excluding disasters) and prior disaster exposure. In multiple linear regression models, prior traumatic experiences were significant predictors of post-disaster symptoms of both PTSD and depression following the hurricane. Prior disaster exposures were not significant in either case. Implications for future screening and analysis of risk factors are discussed.

Available for download on Thursday, November 26, 2020