Assessing Racial Trauma With the Trauma symptoms of discrimination scale

Monnica T. Williams, Destiny M.B. Printz, Ryan C.T. DeLapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Objective: Racial discrimination can cause symptoms of trauma, yet few tools for measurement exist. African Americans have higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder and experience more racial discrimination than other groups. This study is a preliminary assessment of the psychometric properties of the Trauma Symptoms of Discrimination Scale (TSDS), a new measure of discriminatory distress measuring anxiety-related trauma symptoms. Method: African American monoracial and biracial undergraduate students (n = 123) completed questionnaires, including the TSDS, the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure, assessments of racial discrimination, and a range of psychopathology measures. The TSDS factor structure was determined with a principal components analysis and internal consistency was assessed. Pearson's correlations were conducted between the TSDS and measures of discrimination and psychopathology. Linear regression was used to predict the TSDS from frequency of discrimination. Results: Item loadings suggested 4 components: (a) uncontrollable hyperarousal, (b) feelings of alienation, (c) worries about future negative events, and (d) perceiving others as dangerous. All measures of discrimination significantly predicted symptoms of trauma, even when accounting for prior traumatic experiences. Conclusions: Preliminary evidence supports the validity of the TSDS for the measurement of anxiety-related trauma symptoms due to racial discrimination. All forms of discrimination may contribute to traumatization in African Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-747
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Discrimination
  • Microaggressions
  • Racism
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology

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