The association between trauma and interpersonal problems in a United States community mental health setting

J Clin Psychol. 2023 Apr;79(4):1192-1207. doi: 10.1002/jclp.23467. Epub 2022 Dec 2.


Objective: Previous research has documented associations between trauma and interpersonal problems. We examined the impact of trauma on interpersonal problems among depressed patients seeking treatment in a community mental health setting.

Methods: A total of 453 patients seeking treatment and screened for a comparative effectiveness study of therapies for depression were included. We conducted analyses relating the 32-item inventory of interpersonal problems (IIP-32) to trauma measures.

Results: 99.1% of the sample experienced a traumatic event. There were significant associations between the total number of traumas, the number of sexually and physically assaultive traumas, and both gender and race. The number of sexually assaultive traumas was significantly related to the IIP-32 "too caring" subscale (simple r = 0.167, p < 0.001). Controlling for demographics and other IIP-32 subscales, the total number of traumas remained significantly related to the IIP-32 "too caring" domain (partial r = 0.163, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Traumatic events are prevalent among community populations and these experiences are associated with certain interpersonal problems. Trauma and interpersonal problems are key issues for the treatment of patients in the community mental health setting.

Keywords: community mental health; depression; interpersonal problems; trauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Mental Health*
  • United States