Date of Award


Degree Name



Public Health


Joe Tomaka


The present study directly examined whether proximity to ongoing violence might lead to symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a sample of students attending a border university less than a mile from the US Mexico border. Exposure to violence is a common cause of PTSD symptomology. Prior research in the region suggests that ongoing traumatic stress due to the violence in Juarez is associated with increased PTSD symptomology. Because coping skills are thought to protect individuals from PTSD the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) guided the study. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between proximity to violence in Juarez and PTSD symptoms in a sample of college students (N = 244) attending a border university with large Hispanic enrollment. Secondarily, this study examined the role of coping strategies in mediating this relationship. In addition to assessing proximity to violence in Juarez, the present study also assessed how people were coping with stress in their lives. Proximity to violence, as expected, positively correlated with PTSD symptoms. The best model fit to the study data was one in which avoidance coping was represented as a latent variable underlying the use of specific coping strategies, and proximity to violence was represented as a latent variable underlying proximity items. Using this model allowed us to account for 34% of the variance in PTSD symptoms in this sample. Results from this study are another example of how experiencing community violence and/or having close friends and family who are affected by violence may be associated with increased PTSD symptoms. Implications for future research and programs are discussed.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

50 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Francis Javier Reyes