Traumatic Experiences, Post-Traumatic Stress, and Quality of Life Among Women Incarcerated in a State Prison System


Stephanie Grace Prost, PhD, MSW & Jennifer Middleton, PhD, MSW, LCSW | September 19 | 4:00-5:00 PM

Topic: Research, Direct Service | Knowledge Level: Intermediate | Location: TBD

Researchers conducted voluntary face-to-face interviews with women incarcerated in a Southern state prison (n=83) regarding their health, quality of life, and justice-related experiences using a cross-sectional approach. PTS severity was captured using the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 with Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (Weathers et al., 2013). Traumatic experiences of current focus include sexual assault; other unwanted or uncomfortable sexual experiences; and captivity. Quality of life (QOL) was captured using the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale-BREF (Bonomi, Patrick, Bushnell, & Martin, 2000). Independent sample t-tests identified significant differences of PTS severity and QOL among women who self-reported having experienced the above traumas directly and those who did not report direct experiences. Women who reported experiencing these traumatic experiences reported significantly higher average PTS severity than their non-affected counterparts (r= .28 - .40). Women who reported experiencing unwanted sexual experiences or captivity also reported significantly lower environmental QOL than their non-affected peers (r=.30 - .35). Significant relationships between having enough money to meet one’s needs and sexual assault (r=-.33, p=.002), other unwanted sexual experiences (r=-.28., p=.01), and captivity (r=-.32, p=.003) may indicate that financial security serves as a mediator of trauma and QOL among women incarcerated in state prisons. Implications related to vocational training and job opportunities in carceral settings for women will be discussed, within the context of key trauma-informed care principles. Dr. Amber McDonald, part-time faculty at the University of Louisville Kent’s School of Social Work, is a contributing author of this presentation.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Provide an overview of a study exploring relationships among traumatic experiences, post-traumatic stress (PTS), and quality of life (QOL) among women incarcerated in a state prison system (N=83).

·  Describe relationships between traumatic experiences, PTS, and QOL

·  Showcase findings regarding sexual assault or other unwanted or uncomfortable sexual experiences, captivity, PTS, and QOL among a sample of women incarcerated in a state prison system

·  Discuss practice implications related to primary study findings

About the Presenters