Title page for ETD etd-04202012-081513

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Walls, Valerie L.
URN etd-04202012-081513
Title Predictors of Resiliency in Women Affected by Hurricane Katrina
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kelley, Mary Lou Committee Chair
Gouvier, William Committee Member
Matthews, Russell Committee Member
  • coping
  • social support
  • resiliency
Date of Defense 2011-12-07
Availability unrestricted
While the physical devastation of Hurricane Katrina was immediately obvious, the psychological effects of the storm are still being investigated and the positive effects of trauma, although few, have yet to be adequately explored. Although most individuals will experience a trauma during their lifetime, only a small minority experience negative psychological consequences (Breslau, 2002). Resiliency is a quickly developing area in the literature; however, few studies have investigated predictors of resilience and positive outcomes in adults exposed to natural disasters. The purpose of this study was to explore individual factors and predictors of resilience in women exposed to Hurricane Katrina. Participants include 279 women from New Orleans and surrounding parishes. Regression analyses indicate that women with greater levels of perceived social support were significantly more resilient than those with lower levels of lower levels of support as evidenced by both lower PTSD symptom severity and global distress. However, contrary to proposed hypotheses, greater use of both positive and negative coping was related to greater PTSD symptomatology and global distress 3-7 months following Hurricane Katrina. Therefore, in the months immediately following Hurricane Katrina, greater use of problem-focused coping strategies may actually have deleterious effects on the psychological adjustment of survivors. Bivariate correlations indicate that the positive and negative coping variables were significantly correlated such that an increase or decrease one variable resulted in a similar increase/decrease in the other. Demographic variables were found to be inconsistent predictors of resiliency.
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