Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Christopher Kearney

Second Committee Member

Michelle Paul

Third Committee Member

Kristen Culbert

Fourth Committee Member

Jesse Brinson

Number of Pages



Certain individual factors may heighten a youth’s risk for PTSD symptoms following maltreatment (Kearney et al., 2010). This study aimed to identify maltreated youth at highest risk for re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD. This study evaluated interactions among several demographic, affective, and cognitive variables to determine which subgroups of maltreated youth are most likely to manifest diagnostic PTSD symptom presentations in the aforementioned clusters. Participants included 400 ethnically diverse youth aged 7-18 years from Department of Family Services (DFS)-related sites in Las Vegas. This study employed Binary Recursive Partitioning (BRP) methods to identify highest risk subgroups for each symptom cluster by constructing classification trees. BRP, a nonparametric statistical approach, is most appropriate for generating, not testing, hypotheses; hence anticipated findings were offered cautiously (Markham, Young, & Doran, 2013). BRP identifies which variables most saliently predict a given construct and enables parametric methods to subsequently test various hypotheses surrounding why those factors emerged. The first expectation in the current study was that gender, maltreatment type, IQ, and self-blame would emerge as salient factors within tree-models for re-experiencing symptoms. The second expectation was that posttraumatic cognitions and dissociation would emerge as salient factors within tree-models for avoidance symptoms. The third expectation was that age, maltreatment type, IQ, and depression would emerge as salient factors within tree-models for hyperarousal symptoms. Models were constructed through Classification and Regression Tree (CART) analysis using SPSS decision tree software. The first expectation was not supported and both expectations two and three were partially supported. Findings and clinical implications are discussed.


Childhood maltreatment; PTSD; Recursive partitioning; Risk factors; Trauma-related symptoms


Clinical Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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