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Sven Schild, PhD
TRAUMA SYMPTOMS IN DEAF ADULTS
The purpose of this study was to validate the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) in deaf individuals and to explore trauma symptoms in deaf adults. The CAPS was administered in conjunction with the Life Event Checklist (LEC), the Peritraumatic Distress Scale (PDST), the Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI), the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Deaf Adults (TSCDA), the Somatoform Dissociation Questionnaire (SDQ), the Peabody Individual Achievement Test-Revised (PIAT-R), and a socio-demographic questionnaire. The 79 deaf individuals in this study were divided into two comparison groups: low and high trauma individuals. Results from this study provided the first empirical evidence for trauma incidence rates, vulnerability factors, general trauma symptoms, and specific information about the DSM-IV PTSD diagnosis in deaf individuals. Specifically, findings from this study supported the dose-response model for trauma for deaf individuals. As predicted, there was a significant positive correlation between number of personal traumas experienced and trauma symptoms. Vulnerability factors for traumatization included: (a) number of traumatic events, (b) race/ethnicity, (c) sexual orientation, (d) disability status, (e) prior substance abuse, and (f) lack of social support. Higher levels of traumatization were also associated with more symptoms of depression, anger, irritability, sexual concerns, tension reduction behaviors, and substance abuse problems. In addition, deaf trauma survivors also displayed unique trauma symptoms, as captured by the TSCDA scale. Regardless of level of traumatization, deaf people in general experienced significantly more dissociative symptoms than hearing people from the TSI standardization sample. Furthermore, results from this study indicated that the construct of PTSD manifested differently among the deaf population as reflected in the lower prevalence rates, different predictors for the disorder, lower alpha coefficients, and different symptom constellation. For example, when each CAPS symptom cluster was evaluated regarding its ability to predict PTSD, only hyper-arousal symptoms and avoidance and numbing symptoms significantly contributed. Reexperiencing symptoms, the general hallmark feature of PTSD, did not contribute uniquely. Results are discussed with regard to the clinical implications for evaluating trauma symptoms in deaf adults.