Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Christal L. Badour


Mental contamination (MC) – an internal sense of dirtiness experienced without contact with a contaminant – has been linked to PTSD symptoms among sexual trauma survivors. However, existing work has been limited to cross-sectional or quasi-experimental designs – precluding conclusions concerning the directionality of associations among PTSD symptoms and MC – and little work has examined potential mediators of those associations. The present study utilized a prospective design to evaluate the directionality of associations between MC and PTSD symptoms and the role of avoidance and approach coping in mediating those associations. Participants included 41 women with a history of sexual trauma and current MC. Women completed baseline measures followed by fourteen days of twice-daily assessments via a mobile application. Results indicated that avoidance coping mediated the associations between baseline MC and average daily PTSD symptoms (β = 0.30, SE = 0.14, 95% CI [0.06 , 0.58]) and baseline PTSD symptoms and average daily MC (β = 0.33, SE = 0.16, 95% CI [0.08 , 0.67]). Our findings support a mutual maintenance model of PTSD symptoms and MC mediated by avoidance coping. However, additional research conducted over a more extended period is warranted to better understand how MC and PTSD symptoms mutually influence one another.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)