RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN CHILDHOOD EXPOSURE TO VIOLENCE, POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS, RESILIENCE, AND ALCOHOL MISUSE IN MI'KMAQ ADOLESCENTS
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This research was conducted in partnership with a Nova Scotain Mi’kmaq (First Nation) community that was interested in learning more about how exposure to violence (EV) might be related to youth alcohol use. There are many consequences of childhood exposure to violence (EV), but two of the more notable consequences of EV are posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms and excessive or problematic alcohol misuse. Given the strong relationship in the literature between each of the PTS symptom clusters and alcohol problems, it was hypothesized that these symptom clusters would mediate the relationship between EV and alcohol misuse. Study 1 demonstrated that PTS hyperarousal symptoms, but none of the other PTS symptoms, fully mediated the relationship between EV and alcohol misuse, even after controlling for depressive symptoms, age and gender. The literature on EV also demonstrates that despite its numerous potential negative consequences, some youth continue to thrive. This thriving in the face of hardship is called resilience. Study 2 employed a direct measure of resilience (Child and Youth Resilience Measure; Ungar et al, 2008) to examine which if any aspects of resilience can successfully buffer youth from experiencing negative mental health consequences after EV. Study 2 demonstrated that all three aspects of resilience (i.e., individual, family, and community) moderated the relationship between EV and PTS reexperiencing symptoms. More specifically, at higher levels of resilience, the positive relationship between EV and PTS reexperiencing symptoms was dampened. Study 3 documented the collaborative-research process from beginning (i.e., research question formation) to end (i.e., implementation of action-based recommendations). It highlighted how the research questions outlined in Studies 1 and 2 were relevant to both the specific community in question, as well as some Aboriginal communities more broadly. It also highlighted how the first author participated in a research process that is described by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) as Integrated Knowledge Translation (KT). And finally, it identified via qualitative and quantitative methods how the research process as a whole has helped equip the community with more tools to tackle the problems that its members have identified as important for study and change.