Polyvictimization: Latent profiles and mental health outcomes in a clinical sample of adolescents

Zachary W. Adams, Angela Moreland, Joseph R. Cohen, Robert C. Lee, Rochelle F. Hanson, Carla Kmett Danielson, Shannon Self-Brown, Ernestine C. Briggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Exposure to multiple traumatic events (polyvictimization) is a reliable predictor of deleterious health outcomes and risk behaviors in adolescence. The current study extends the literature on the prevalence and consequences of adolescent trauma exposure by (a) empirically identifying and characterizing trauma exposure profiles in a large, ethnically diverse, multisite, clinical sample of adolescents, and (b) evaluating relations among identified profiles with demographic characteristics and clinical correlates. Method: Data from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Core Data Set were used to identify and characterize victimization profiles using latent class analysis in a sample of 3,485 adolescents (ages 13-18, 63% female, 35.7% White, 23.2% Black/African American, 35.0% Hispanic/Latino). Multiple measures of psychological distress and risk behaviors were evaluated as covariates of trauma exposure classes. Results: Five trauma exposure classes, or profiles, were identified. Four classes-representing approximately half the sample-were characterized by polyvictimization. Polyvictimization classes were differentiated on number of trauma types, whether emotional abuse occurred, and whether emotional abuse occurred over single or multiple developmental epochs. Unique relations with demographic characteristics and mental health outcomes were observed. Discussion: Results suggest polyvictimization is not a unidimensional phenomenon but a diverse set of trauma exposure experiences with unique correlates among youth. Further research on prevention of polyvictimization and mechanisms linking chronic trauma exposure, gender, and ethnicity to negative outcomes is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Complex trauma
  • Mental health
  • Polytraumatization
  • Polyvictimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology


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