Empirically derived lifespan polytraumatization typologies: A systematic review

Ateka A. Contractor*, Stephanie Caldas, Shelley Fletcher, M. Tracie Shea, Cherie Armour

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Polytraumatization classes based on trauma endorsement patterns relate to distinct clinical outcomes. Person-centered approaches robustly evaluate the nature, and construct validity of polytraumatization classes. Objective: Our review examined evidence for the nature and construct validity of lifespan polytraumatization typologies. Data sources: In September 2016, we searched Pubmed, PSYCINFO, PSYC ARTICLES, Academic Search Complete, PILPTS, Web of Science, CINAHL, Medline, PsycEXTRA, and PBSC. Search terms included “latent profile,” “latent class,” “latent analysis,” “person-centered,” “polytrauma,” “polyvictimization,” “traumatization,” “lifetime,” “cooccurring,” “complex,” “typology,” “multidimensional,” “sequential,” “multiple,” “subtype,” “(re)victimization,” “cumulative,” “maltreatment,” “abuse,” and “stressor.” Inclusionary criteria included: peer-reviewed; latent class/latent profile analyses (LCA/LPA) of lifespan polytrauma classes; adult samples of size greater than 200; only trauma types as LCA/LPA indicators; mental health correlates of typologies; and individual-level trauma assessment. Of 1,397 articles, nine met inclusion criteria. Data extraction: Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, research assistants completed a secondary reference search, and independently extracted data with standardized coding forms. Results: Three-class (n = 5) or four-class (n = 4) solutions were found. Seven studies found a class characterized by higher trauma endorsement (high-trauma). All studies found a class characterized by lower trauma endorsement (low-trauma), and predominance of specific traumas (specific-trauma; e.g., childhood maltreatment). High-trauma versus low-trauma classes and specific-trauma versus low-trauma classes differed on mental health correlates. Conclusion: Evidence supports the prevalence of a high-trauma class experiencing poorer mental health, and the detrimental impact of aggregated interpersonal and other traumas. We highlight the clinical importance of addressing polytraumatization classes, and comprehensively assessing the impact of all traumas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1137-1159
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • lifespan polytrauma
  • mental health correlates
  • person-centered approach
  • PTSD
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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