Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Thomas Dodson



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Chair

J. Gayle Beck

Committee Member

Joshua Clapp

Committee Member

Kathryn Howell

Committee Member

Randy Floyd


Introduction: A history of childhood maltreatment has been related to mental health concerns inadulthood, with depression showing the largest amount of empirical support. Perceptions of social support have been shown to have a protective effect (buffer against mental health symptoms particularly for survivors of more severe maltreatment) and a promotive effect (direct positive effect on mental health symptoms regardless of the severity of child maltreatment) with mental health concerns. Research has shown more consistent support for the promotive effect of social support on mental health outcomes in adults who have a history of childhood maltreatment. The protective effect of social support has been shown to be greatly reduced for individuals with a higher severity of maltreatment. Method: Thus, to further the literature on the relationship between depression symptoms and perceptions of social support, the current study evaluated these relationships over a one-month period using a cross-lagged panel design where both depression and social support were assessed at baseline and one month later. Additionally, negative attitudes about using social support (i.e., negative network orientation) were evaluated to bolster the analysis of facets of social support that are relevant following childhood maltreatment. To further evaluate the effect of different dimensions of social support, measures of specific types of social support (i.e., emotional, socializing, practical, financial, or advice/guidance support), were also run in the above cross-lagged panel model. The final aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of childhood maltreatment severity on the study variables. Analyses were conducted to assess the relationship of overall frequency of maltreatment, the number of types of child maltreatment, and duration of maltreatment measured at time point 1 with the levels of negative network orientation, perceived social support, and depression severity at time point 1. Results: Results showed a consistent relationship between greater symptoms of2depression and lower subsequent perceived social support from family and others. The inverse relationship (perceived social support predicting subsequent depression) was not significant in any of the models. There were no significant cross-lagged relationships between perceptions of friend support or negative network orientation with depression. For the indicators of maltreatment severity, there was a cumulative effect of types of maltreatment on perceptions of social support, negative network orientation, and depression, such that there was a significant relationship between the greater severity of child maltreatment (measured as either the overall severity of maltreatment experienced or the total number of types of maltreatment experienced) with lower levels of social support from family or friends, greater negative attitudes about using social support, and greater depression symptom severity. Conclusions: Overall, the cross-lagged panel models highlight the negative prospective effect of depression on specific domains of social support, including support from family and close others over the span of four weeks. The findings from the cross-lagged panel models consistently supported no significant prospective relationships between depression and perceptions of social support from friends. Separate analyses that used univariate ANOVAs also supported the relationships between greater child maltreatment severity (conceptualized in multiple ways) and lower perceptions of social support from family, greater negative attitudes about using social support, and greater depression symptom severity. The current findings provide relevant findings into the effects of childhood maltreatment on specific facets of social support and depression in emerging adult women college students.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest