Trauma Film Paradigm In College Students: Validation of a Virtual Methodology




Russell, Patricia Diane

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About 85% of college students have experienced a potentially traumatic event. Nearly 9% will develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The trauma film paradigm (TFP) is used as a proxy for trauma exposure to understand the symptoms of PTSD. Psychometrically established in the laboratory, the TFP has not been validated in a virtual format, which could broaden the reach of this methodology. In a fully-controlled experimental design, it was hypothesized that the virtual and in-lab TFPs would elicit more intrusions and higher distress and negative mood than both the virtual and in-lab neutral film paradigms (NFPs), while the virtual and in-lab TFP would elicit comparable intrusions and negative mood changes. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: virtual TFP, in-lab TFP, virtual NFP, and in-lab NFP. The sample included female undergraduate students (N = 92). A repeated-measures ANOVA found a significant interaction between condition and time on mood changes, F (3, 88) = 45.47, p< .001. Post-hoc comparisons indicated that negative mood for the virtual TFP and in-lab TFP were not significantly different, but both were significantly higher than the virtual NFP and the in-lab NFP. Findings supported the utility of the virtual TFP methodology. These findings have the potential to extend the reach of trauma research to those with challenges with completing in-person assessments.


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analogue for trauma, PTSD, TFP, trauma film paradigm, virtual methodology