Social support, world assumptions, and exposure as predictors of anxiety and quality of life following a mass trauma

J Anxiety Disord. 2011 May;25(4):498-506. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.12.003. Epub 2010 Dec 21.


This study examined the influence of a mass trauma (the Virginia Tech campus shootings) on anxiety symptoms and quality of life, as well as the potential vulnerability/protective roles of world assumptions and social support. Pre-trauma adjustment data, collected in the six months prior to the shooting, was examined along with two-month post-shooting data in a sample of 298 female students enrolled at the university at the time of the shootings. Linear regression analyses revealed consistent predictive roles for world assumptions pertaining to control and self-worth as well as family support. In addition, for those more severely exposed to the shooting, greater belief in a lack of control over outcomes appeared to increase vulnerability for post-trauma physiological and emotional anxiety symptoms. Implications of the results for research and intervention following mass trauma are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Female
  • Homicide / psychology
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Support*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Students / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Violence / psychology
  • Virginia