Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. Clinical Psychology




College of Science & Mathematics


Danielle Arigo, PhD

Committee Member 1

Jeffrey Greeson, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

David J. Angelone, Ph.D.


natural disasters, older adults, pain interference, PTSD


Post-traumatic stress disorder in old age; Chronic pain


Clinical Psychology


Both the older adult population and the frequency of natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes) increase in the U.S. each year. Consequently, understanding the health experiences that affect older adults specifically following a natural disaster is important for providing effective healthcare and promoting health expectancy. For example, the extent to which PTSD symptoms following a natural disaster contribute to pain severity (beyond the contributions of other psychosocial experiences such as depression) among older adults is not yet clear, and whether this contribution differs by gender or age has yet to be established. The aims of this study were (1) to determine whether symptoms of PTSD after a natural disaster uniquely contribute to pain interference in daily activities, and (2) to examine the potential moderating effects of gender and age on this relation. Secondary analyses were conducted using an existing longitudinal dataset from the Ongoing Research on Aging in New Jersey: Bettering Opportunities for Wellness in Life (ORANJ BOWL) project (N =1,809, MAge = 67.7 years, 68% women). Results showed that PTSD symptoms are a unique contributor to pain interference and that avoidance symptoms accounted for the greatest amount of variance among the PTSD symptoms subscales. However, neither age nor gender moderated the relation between PTSD (and avoidance) symptoms and pain interference. These results may assist public health officials with response planning to natural disasters, as resources and treatments can be provided to address the relation between PTSD and pain interference in the increasing population of older adults.