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Predictors of traumatic experiences among individuals experiencing pandemic-related stressors: a cross-sectional study in Europe during the COVID-19 crisis


The COVID-19 pandemic is a manifestation of trauma exposure that could eventuate in psychological distress, anxiety, depression, and various mental health disturbances, especially in people who have experienced an additional stressor such as a traumatic event. This cross-sectional study assessed the relationship between pandemic-related stressors, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the risk for severe or life-threatening symptoms, and resilience among individuals with a traumatic history amidst the coronavirus disease. This study is part of a longitudinal pan-European research, the ADJUST study. The present study consisted of 14.106 participants. The questionnaires utilized included: sociodemographics, health aspects, the Criterion A section of the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5), the Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5), the Pandemic Stressor Scale (PaSS), and the Resilience Evaluation Scale (RES). For the analysis, descriptive statistics and logistic regression analysis were applied. 29% of the respondents reported a traumatic history. Fear of infection, burden of infection, crisis management and communication, restricted activity, risk for severe or life-threatening symptoms of the coronavirus disease, PTSD, and resilience were the predictive factors in the trauma-exposed population. This research provides insights into the stressors that individuals with a traumatic background might experience through the COVID-19 pandemic. Future interventions and worldwide health policies should target trauma-exposed populations to enhance psychological health amidst COVID-19 and other stressful events.

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The detailed sociodemographic information of the dataset does not fully protect the anonymity of the respondents. For this reason, the entire dataset cannot be made publicly available. Εxcerpts of the data can be provided upon reasonable request by the first author and if approved by all co-authors.


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The authors thank the collaborators for their support and contribution to the present paper: Ozan Demirok (team Austria); Aleksandra Stevanovic, Helena Bakic, Ines Rezo Bagaric, Tanja Franciskovic (team Croatia); Nino Makhashvili and Sophio Vibliani (team Georgia); Niki Adam, Eleftheria Evgeniou, Eirini Fakoureli, Aristoula Maria Kyratzopoulou, Kostas Messas, Triada Palaiokosta, Eleni Papathanasiou, Konstandina Rapti (team Cyprus/Greece); Ilaria Cinieri, Alessandra Gallo and Chiara Marangio (team Italia); Monika Kvedaraite and Auguste Nomeikaite (team Lithuania); Joanne Mouthaan, Suzan Soydas, Marloes Eidhof, Marie José van Hoof and Simon Groen (team Netherlands); Magdalena Skrodzka and Monika Folkierska-Żukowska (team Poland); Aida Dias, Camila Borges, Diana Andringa, Guida Manuel, Joana Becker and João Veloso, (team Portugal); Kristina Bondjers, Josefin Sveen, Maria Bragesjo, Kerstin Bergh Johannesson and Filip K. Arnberg (team Sweden).


The data assessment in Poland was supported by the Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, from the funds awarded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in the form of a subsidy for the maintenance and development of research potential in 2021 (501-D125-01–1250000 zlec.5011000638) and the Excellence initiative – research university 501-D125-20–0004316. The data assessment in the Netherlands was supported by two insurance companies (DSW and CZ). The remaining countries did not receive specific funding for this research.

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Authors and Affiliations



CL conceptualized the study in cooperation with all members of ADJUST consortium. All authors recruited study participants and contributed to the data management of the respective site. AL coordinated the data management. CL and XH designed the data analysis and CL conducted the data analysis. CL drafted the manuscript; all authors revised the draft and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Chrysanthi Lioupi.

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The study was registered in a study registry before its start (OSF registry, Each country obtained ethical approval of the study: Ethics Committee of the University of Vienna, 00554. Ethics Committee of the University of Urbino ‘Carlo Bo’, 34, 22/07/2020. Ethics Committee of the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, 21 May 2020. Ethics Review Board of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Utrecht University, 20–360. Ilia State University Faculty of Arts and Science Research Ethics Committee, 12/06/2020. Local Psychological Ethics Committee at the Centre for Psychosocial Medicine, LPEK-0149. Social Sciences Ethics Review Board (SSERB), University of Nicosia, SSERB 00109. The Swedish Ethical Review Authority, 2020–03217. Vilnius University Ethics Committee of Research in Psychology, 44. Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, 6/7/2020. Ethics Committee of the Medical Faculty, University of Porto and Centro Hospitalar São João, Porto, CE 201–20. The National Ethical Review Board in Sweden, 2020–03217.

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Lioupi, C., Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous, X., Acquarini, E. et al. Predictors of traumatic experiences among individuals experiencing pandemic-related stressors: a cross-sectional study in Europe during the COVID-19 crisis. Curr Psychol (2023).

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