Posttraumatic Outcomes Following Shooting in the USA

Problem and Significance Paper (DUE WEEK 7):
A problem and significance statement frames the research problem and question to be
studied. The work you do for this assignment connects directly to and informs your topical
literature review paper. For this assignment, you will construct a formal problem and
significance statement that includes APA citations for your sources with summary and
evaluation information for each. This assignment is worth 20% of your final grade.
Your problem and significance statement will consist of peer reviewed journal articles,
statistical reports, and other sources framing the research problem that you identify
through a systematic search of the library databases. The sources your select must be
relevant to the research topic that you have selected to focus on for the semester. While you
may encounter sources that are not relevant or do not fit the scope of your project while
researching, for the purposes of this assignment, you will only include the ones that you
find useful and relevant.
You will cite five to seven sources for your problem and significance statement as you
define and frame your research topic and question to be examined. You will start with the
overarching problem that impedes delivery of high quality services in the field of human
services, public health, public safety, or your major field of study.
This will include citing statistical sources that are at the national, regional, and state levels
that identify a trend that has led to the problem to be studied.
Any concepts, themes, and definitions associated with the problem should be explicated
and discussed in your paper.
Then, you will include a justification for studying and researching this problem that will be
informed by the selected sources and what these authors have stated as well as by your own
professional experiences.

Problem and Significance Statement

Posttraumatic Outcomes Following Shooting in the USA

The rate shootings in public places are on the rise in USA. The number of shootings in
the USA has increased by more than ten times, between 2000 and 2015. Shooting is a potentially

traumatizing event. A traumatic event is associated with post-traumatic signs and symptoms
(Littleton, Kumpula and Orcutt, 2014). The symptoms cause significant behavioral, emotional
and thinking disturbances that require psychological and psychiatric interventions. PTSD is one
of the anxiety conditions that require explicit care.
Summary and Evaluation Information
Posts traumatic symptoms’ prevalence varies with personal factors. Littleton, Kumpula
and Orcutt (2014) carried research to estimate the vulnerability of victims of shooting in a
University. The study involved female students who were directly or secondarily involved in the
mass shooting at the University. The study used scientific evaluation tools for measuring the pre
and post-shooting symptoms of PTSD (Littleton, Kumpula and Orcutt, 2014). According to the
findings of the study, 98% of the study participants manifested symptoms that were consistent
with diagnostic criteria for PTSD, immediately after the shooting. The PTSD symptoms persisted
and 8 months after the shooting, 90% of the study respondents still manifested PTSD
The study by Littleton, Kumpula and Orcutt (2014) only included female students.
Therefore, the results may not apply to other populations of different aged, gender, social
settings, and other demographic characteristics. Further research is needed to explore the
occurrence of post traumatic outcomes following shooting to other populations in the USA
population. Additionally, research is needed to investigate other post traumatic outcomes, apart
from the specific PTSD symptomatology (Littleton, Kumpula and Orcutt, 2014).
The occurrence of post-traumatic symptomatology following shooting varies with several
factors. Vieselmeyer, Holguin and Mezulis (2017) conducted a similar study to investigate the
post-traumatic stress symptoms that affected victims of mass shooting. The study was

investigated among Seattle Pacific University students and staff members who were present at
the time of the attack. The study incorporated participants of different ages, genders and social-
economic status (Vieselmeyer, Holguin and Mezulis, 2017). The study investigated several
variables such as resilience to post-traumatic stress symptoms, exposures to stress, lifetime post-
traumatic effects, post-traumatic symptoms and demographic characteristics of the respondents.
The results of the study show an interaction between multiple factors to produce post-
traumatic stress after shooting. The results indicated that higher levels of stress occurred among
victims and witnesses who were within the proximity of the shooting. High levels of post-
traumatic stress were observed among witnesses and victims who at least knew one of the
victims of the shooting. Similarly, Wozniak, Caudle, Harding, Vieselmeyer and Mezulis (2019)
carried out an investigation to determine the scale of effects of shooting. The results indicated
that witnesses and victims who had high levels of resilience and coping mechanism had showed
post-traumatic symptoms.
The results of the study by Vieselmeyer, Holguin and Mezulis (2017) indicate additional
elements of posttraumatic system stress after the shooting. Resilience and coping mechanisms
play a role in the prevalence of traumatic symptoms faster-shooting events. The physical and
emotional proximity to the events of shooting determine the effects the manifestation of the
symptoms of trauma resulting from mass shooting.

However, the study did not use clinical criteria or diagnosis to evaluate the symptoms.
The data is based on the general self-description by the study participants. Therefore, more
studies are warranted to investigate the occurrence of posttraumatic symptoms following
shooting, based on clinically known scales and diagnosis criteria (Vieselmeyer, Holguin and
Mezulis, 2017). The study did not investigate the relationship between the demographic factors

and the occurrence of traumatic symptoms after shooting. The study was limited to learning
institution setting, with large but limited mixture of witnesses and victims of shooting
(Vieselmeyer, Holguin and Mezulis, 2017).

Lowe and Galea (2017) carried a study to analyze articles that had been published on
primary studies on the topic. The study reviewed both USA-based and international studies on
psychological stress following mass shootings. The study involved direct victims and their
families (Lowe and Galea, 2017). The study found out that there are several mental effects of
shooting and include; Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and PTSD. There are
factors that determine the traumatic effects of mass shootings and include; previous exposure to
trauma, coping mechanisms and proximity to the shooting events (Lowe and Galea, 2017). The
study provides valuable data on different contexts of mass shooting and additional psychological
effects of shooting, apart from PTSD. However, the study did not investigate the long-term post-
shooting psychological effects of the study. Further, the incorporation of other psychological
event has limited the analysis of post-traumatic stress, which is the main psychological impact of
shootings (Lowe and Galea, 2017). Additionally, the study did not incorporate the past-traumatic
effects on the surrounding communities, where the shooting occurred.

A study is required to investigate the posttraumatic shootings exclusively for the USA
context. The study should investigate the effects not only on the victims of shooting, but to the
community in which shootings occurred. Studies that have been published on the topic so far
focus on mass and large scale shooting. A study needs to investigate the large scale and small
scale shootings in in-depth analysis.

Shultz et al., (2014) gave an expert view that correlates to and adds to the studies
discussed in this paper. Shultz et al., (2014) identified; exposure to previous trauma, levels of
proximity to the shooting, and coping mechanisms as the factors that expose to PTSD among
victims of shooting. Shultz et al., (2014) explains the effects of shooting on adolescents and
children who were not involved in the shooting events. The author emphasizes on the role played
by media in aggravating the posttraumatic effect of shooting.

Research Topic and Question

The research topic is: Posttraumatic Outcomes Following Shooting in the USA

The research question is: What are the Posttraumatic Outcomes Following Shooting in the USA?

Concepts, Themes, and Definitions

The main concepts and terms in this paper are; shooting, post-traumatic stress disorder
and post-traumatic outcomes. Shooting is planned and intentional killing and injuring people by
the use of firearm, usually in public venues and large gatherings (Smith, Shapiro, & Sarani,
2016). PTSD is a condition that occur following life threatening events characterized by
reflecting the events through dreams causing severe clinical anxiety symptomatology.


There are several limitations in the studies analyzed in this paper. The limitations are
related to the study participants, measures and design of the studies. Additional studies into the
matter will inform on the identification of victims and witnesses who need care from shooting
and removal of barriers against psychological care following shooting. Additional data will also

inform on factors to consider when assessing the severity of post-traumatic symptoms following
the shooting.


Littleton, H., Kumpula, M., & Orcutt, H. (2014). Posttraumatic symptoms following a campus
shooting: The role of psychosocial resource loss. Violence and Victims, 26(4), 461-476.
Lowe, S. R., & Galea, S. (2017). The mental health consequences of mass shootings. Trauma,
Violence, & Abuse, 18(1), 62-82.

Shultz, J. M., Thoresen, S., Flynn, B. W., Muschert, G. W., Shaw, J. A., Espinel, Z., … & Cohen,
A. M. (2014). Multiple vantage points on the mental health effects of mass shootings.
Current psychiatry reports, 16(9), 469.
Smith, E. R., Shapiro, G., & Sarani, B. (2016). Effects of mass shooting fatalities. Journal of
care surgery, 81(1), 86-92.
Vieselmeyer, J., Holguin, J., & Mezulis, A. (2017). The role of resilience and gratitude in
posttraumatic stress and growth following a campus shooting. Psychological Trauma:
Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 9(1), 62.
Wozniak, J. D., Caudle, H. E., Harding, K., Vieselmeyer, J., & Mezulis, A. H. (2019). The effect
of trauma proximity and ruminative response styles on posttraumatic stress and
posttraumatic growth following a university shooting. Psychological Trauma: Theory,
Research, Practice, and Policy.

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