Decreasing Perceived and Academic Stress Through Emotion Regulation and Nonjudging With Trauma-Exposed College Students

Megan L. Cherry, Melanie M. Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Among college students, trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology are associated with several negative consequences. College is often stressful, and those who have experienced trauma are vulnerable to heightened stress sensitivity and increased negative outcomes. It is imperative to identify interventions that decrease stress to reduce the deleterious effects of related outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine whether emotion regulation and nonjudgment could be enhanced in trauma-exposed college students through a short, mindfulness-based intervention, and whether the intervention would decrease perceived and academic stress. It was hypothesized that the intervention would increase emotion regulation and nonjudging, resulting in decreases in perceived and academic stress, and that the intervention would be significant and substantial for participants with subthreshold PTSD symptomatology, but not for those with potentially diagnosable PTSD symptomatology. The final sample included 209 trauma-exposed college students (139 [66.5%] women, 66 [31.6%] men); participating undergraduate classes were randomly assigned (as classes) to mindfulness or control groups. A pretest-posttest experimental design was conducted with the mindfulness group completing a pretest, three interventions with an assessment after each, and an assessment 3 weeks postintervention. The present study, a pilot intervention, found that a brief, mindfulness-based intervention reduced academic and perceived stress through increasing emotion regulation and nonjudging in trauma-exposed college students. The effects of the intervention on perceived stress were only significant for participants with subthreshold PTSD symptomatology. The results of the present study suggest a brief mindfulness-based intervention may have helpful effects for trauma-exposed college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Stress Management
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Emotion regulation
  • Mindfulness
  • Nonjudging
  • Stress
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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