Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology, Applied

First Advisor

Keith Bentele

Second Advisor

Russell Schutt

Third Advisor

Bianca Bersani


This study assesses main and buffering effects of perceived social connection in a sample of 183 chronically homeless adults enrolled in a supportive housing program in Boston, MA. Of particular interest is the potential for social connection to buffer the relationship between violent childhood trauma and current levels of psychological distress and post-traumatic stress. This relationship is explored within the context of the Stress-Buffering Hypothesis, which states that negative effects of stress will be lessened for individuals who have high levels of social support or connection. Results show that social connection has a significant direct effect on both outcomes. As perceived social connection increases, psychological distress and trauma-related symptoms decrease. Social connection did not buffer the impact of violent childhood trauma on psychological distress, and a non-traditional buffering pattern was found when testing social connection as a buffer between childhood violent trauma and current levels of post-traumatic stress. While individuals with higher levels of social support experience less post-traumatic stress, social connection did not appear to buffer the impact of childhood violent trauma on this outcome. Possible explanations of these finding are offered, as well as suggested clinical considerations.


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