Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Julia Dodd

Committee Members

Natasha Gouge, Aubrey Dueweke, Andrea Clements


Sexual trauma is linked to adverse health outcomes (e.g., D’Andre et al., 2011). Given the negative sequelae of sexual trauma, exploration of factors that influence the relation between sexual trauma and health outcomes is crucial. Current literature suggests that psychological flexibility and inflexibility may be factors in promotion of individuals’ health or pathology (e.g., Gloster et al., 2017). The current study sought to explore the variability in psychological flexibility and inflexibility among participants and the potential moderating effects of psychological flexibility and inflexibility on the relation between sexual trauma and both mental and physical health outcomes.

Moderation analyses failed to support significant moderation effect of psychological flexibility on either physical or mental health outcomes. However, psychological inflexibility did significantly moderate the relationship between sexual trauma and emotional wellbeing b = 5.50 t(247) = 2.69 p < 0.01 such that sexual trauma significantly predicts worse emotional wellbeing at high levels of psychological inflexibility. Similarly, in the model examining the potential moderating effect of psychological inflexibility on the relationship between sexual trauma and physical functioning, the interaction was significant, b = 7.51 t(248) = 2.13, p < 0.05, suggesting possible moderation. However, after further probing, psychological inflexibility did not significantly moderate the relationship between sexual trauma and physical functioning at any level.

Additionally, t-test results suggest that regardless of a sexual trauma history, participants do not significantly differ in their levels of psychological flexibility or inflexibility. However, within moderation models both psychological flexibility and psychological inflexibility predicted physical and mental health outcomes, further supporting the association between resiliency and psychological flexibility and the link between inflexibility and worsened health outcomes. Findings suggest that interventions that promote psychological flexibility and target inflexibility may be important health promotion factors among both survivors of sexual trauma and non-traumatized populations.

Document Type

Dissertation - embargo


Copyright by the authors.

Available for download on Sunday, September 15, 2024