Beyond Criterion A1: The Effects of Relational and Non-Relational Traumatic Events

Samantha L. Anders, Sandra L. Shallcross, Patricia A. Frazier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Trauma research has historically focused on Criterion A1 traumas, neglecting many other negative interpersonal events that have been shown to lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; S. L. Anders, P. A. Frazier, & S. Frankfurt, 2011). Trauma research has also focused primarily on PTSD and neglected other important outcomes, such as relationship functioning. This study aimed to assess a broader range of events, including many Criterion A1 interpersonal events; assess the cumulative impact of event exposure; and examine the relation between event exposure and a broad range of outcomes, including relationship functioning. A sample of 181 undergraduate students completed measures assessing exposure to a broad range of events, their worst lifetime event, and current psychological (e.g., psychological distress) and relationship (e.g., partner trust) functioning. Results suggested that non-Criterion A1 relational events were very common in our sample. The number of lifetime relational events experienced, whether Criterion A1 or non-Criterion A1, was strongly and consistently associated with all outcomes. The number of lifetime Criterion A1 non-relational events experienced was significantly associated with current PTSD symptoms but was not associated with other mental health and relationship outcomes. No differences were found between Criterion A1 relational, non-Criterion A1 relational, and Criterion A1 non-relational worst events on any of the mental health or relationship measures. Implications for further research and interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-151
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Trauma and Dissociation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • relationships
  • traumatic stress


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