Research That Matters (January 17 - 20, 2008)
Method: To address the research question 14 men and 14 women survivors of aggravated assault, simple assault, and/or robbery were interviewed using an open-ended survey instrument that assessed details of participants' experiences, appraisal of these experiences, social roles, and trauma symptoms. To aid in comparability, participants were purposefully selected to ensure similarity of age, ethnicity, marital status, legal classification of crime experienced, and specific characteristics of that crime.
Data analysis used for the current study consisted of four separate yet related steps. First, the interview transcripts were coded using grounded theory methodology (e.g. Creswell, 1998; Denzin & Lincoln, 1998). Second, descriptive statistics were calculated for each category. Third, connections were made between categories and to trauma symptoms based on DSM-VI-TR criteria (APA, 2000). Finally, gender comparisons were made incorporating the comparisons with both narrative examples and descriptive statistics.
Results: Four distinct themes emerge from the coding process; (1) family responsibilities (e.g. caretaker, provider, and/or protector), (2) job satisfaction and employer support, (3) leadership responsibility held by the participant, (4) changing relationships and/or changing responsibilities after the event. From each of these categories distinct differences emerged in how gender specific roles affected participant's lives and their recovery. To illustrate, all of the women who were both mothers (i.e. caretakers) and the family's primary breadwinner (i.e. providers) also reported clinically significant trauma reactions. Similar findings were noted within each of the four theme categories. The proposed poster will illustrate these differences in relation to the conceptual model that provided a framework for this study.
Conclusions/Implications: Findings of the current work provide multiple explanations for why women are at greater risk for developing PTSD following exposure to violent crime than men. Future research endeavors into trauma recovery can benefit from these findings by tailoring measurement to specific constructs identified by the participants. Additionally, therapists and policy makers can utilize the findings to shape programs that are gender responsive thus improving services to individuals exposed to crime.