Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in Psychology



First Advisor

Elissa J Brown

Second Advisor

William Chaplin


Natural disasters include direct exposure and secondary adversities (Chrisman & Dougherty, 2014). For youth, severity of disaster exposure and number of secondary adversities have been found to be positively associated with the severity of trauma-related psychopathology, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression (Giannopoulou et al., 2006). Preliminary studies suggest an interaction between trauma exposure severity and number of secondary adversities in the prediction of psychopathology. Notably, youth who experienced secondary adversities without directly experiencing the trauma exhibited heightened psychopathology (Kar, 2019), yet these children tend to be excluded from studies and missed when identifying children in need of services. Emerging research suggests that COVID exposure and COVID-related secondary adversities are positively associated with youths’ PTSD and depression severity (Benke et al., 2020; Murata et al., 2021). Neither the predictive role of secondary adversities nor the interaction between disaster exposure and secondary adversities in the prediction of PTSD and depression severity have been examined in the context of the pandemic. This study aims to examine the impact of the interaction between COVID exposure and number of COVID-related secondary adversities on youths’ mental health in a diverse sample of children (N=501). Data are drawn from self-report measures administered via Qualtrics. COVID-19 Exposure and COVID-related secondary adversities were assessed using the CHP Scale on Child Exposure to COVID-19 (Brown and Goodman, 2020). Child PTSD and depression symptoms were assessed using the Child PTSD Symptom Scale 5th edition (CPSS; Foa et al., 2018) and the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ; Angold et al., 1995). Hierarchical linear regressions were run with child age and family income as covariates, COVID-19 exposure (yes/no), number of COVID-related secondary adversities, and the interaction of COVID-19 exposure and secondary adversities as predictors, and CPSS and MFQ as the criterion variables. The overall model for PTSD predicted 16.7% of the variance, F(5, 483) = 19.208, p < .001. The overall model for depression predicted 13.3% of the variance, F(5, 481) = 14.665, p <.001. R2-change for the COVID Exposure-by-COVID-Related Secondary Adversities interaction term was 1.9% (p < .001) for PTSD and 1.4% (p=.006) for depression.