Date of Award

August 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Shawn Cahill

Committee Members

Christine Larson, Hanjoo Lee, Marcellus Merritt, Christopher Martell


Acculturative Stress, Discrimination, Migration, PTSD, Social Support, Trauma


The present study examined the associations between cultural variables (i.e., acculturative stress, discrimination, social support, migration planning, and reasons for migrating) and exposure to trauma and PTSD in a sample of Latinos (N=2,554) residing in the United States, who participated in the National Latino and Asian America Study (NLAAS). Results showed that there were significant positive associations between trauma exposure and migrating because of political reasons, migrating in search of medical attention, migrating due to

marital or family problems, and forced migration, suggesting they may be risk factors for being exposed to trauma. There was a negative association between trauma exposure and migrating in search of a better future, indicating it may be a protective factor against being exposed to trauma. Family and friend demands was positively associated with both trauma exposure and PTSD severity, indicating it may be the case that demands from family and friends could in themselves constitute trauma or that once trauma has occurred there are more perceived family and friend demands, thus exacerbating PTSD symptom severity. There was also a positive association between acculturative stress and PTSD, indicating that either acculturative stress worsens PTSD or that having PTSD makes it harder to adjust to life in the U.S. (i.e., acculturative stress). Overall, the results from the present study indicate cultural factors play a role in exposure to trauma, as well as subsequent development of PTSD. Study strengths, limitations, and future directions are discussed.