Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Amy Naugle

Second Advisor

Dr. Scott Gaynor

Third Advisor

Dr. Amy Damashek

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Eric Sauer


Mindfulness, trauma, PTSD, sexual assault


Sexual assault has been found to increase the risk of distressing psychological symptoms including PTSD, depression, somatization, drug and substance use, lower quality of life and experiential avoidance. As such, interventions for reducing the distress and negative impacts of sexual assault are of importance. Mindfulness is of particular interest as it addresses one of the prominent factors known to maintain psychological distress after trauma, experiential avoidance (Polusny et al., 2004; Merwin et al., 2009). Furthermore, an online mindfulness-based intervention can increase the accessibility and reduce the barriers to treatment. A within subjects repeated measures open clinical trial design was used to investigate the effectiveness of an online mindfulness based intervention for trauma related symptoms among college students. Specifically, the impact an online mindfulness-based intervention has on mindfulness, experiential avoidance, and PTSD using self-report measures was evaluated. In order to participate, individuals needed to be 18 years or older, endorse a history of unwanted sexual experiences and endorse moderate PTSD symptoms (scoring at least a 21 or over on the PCL-5). A sample of 10 students currently enrolled at a Midwestern university participated. Participants completed an eight-week online mindfulness based intervention. In addition, participants completed assessments evaluating psychological symptoms throughout the duration of the study.

Results of the current study support the use of an online mindfulness-based intervention in reducing PTSD symptoms, experiential avoidance, general psychological distress, and in increasing mindfulness skills among college students. The current study did not support the use of an online mindfulness-based intervention in improving quality of life or in reducing depressive and somatic symptoms.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access