Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Buckler

Second Advisor

Dr. Chris Koch

Third Advisor

Dr. Clark Campbell


The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of light rail operators who report rail-related traumatic events which result in fear, helplessness or horror. Completed surveys were returned by 69 (64%) of 112 eligible operators. Seventy-four percent of the surveys were returned by men while 23% were returned by women. Thirty-two ( 46%) operators reported having experienced an actual traumatic event while 12 (17%) indicated having experienced a threatened traumatic event. The most frequently occurring and stressful events reported by light rail operators included: hitting and killing, hitting, or nearly hitting pedestrians and vehicles while operating the train. Results suggest operators who reported no traumatic event fall asleep easier at night compared to operators who reported an actual traumatic event. Seven ( l 0%) operators who reported a traumatic event ( 4 actual, 3 threatened) met criteria for PTSD as measured by the Civilian Mississippi Scale-Revised (CMS-R). Operators who met PTSD criteria reported they experienced significantly higher on items that assessed: intrusive memories of the event as well as more feelings of distress or anxiety when reminded of the event. Additionally, they reported significantly higher on items that examined: attempts to avoid reminders of the event, feelings of guilt over things they did during the event, feeling alert or on guard, and difficulty getting emotionally close to others. Operators who met PTSD criteria also more frequently indicated thoughts about quitting or leaving work. Finally, a significant positive correlation was found between quantity of near misses and stress of near misses when the scores of all operators were examined. Female operators reported significantly higher levels of stress related to near misses compared to male operators. These findings underscore the importance of ongoing research of the stress and coping reported by operators which can be incorporated in the training of light rail operators and education of the public to reduce the occurrence and negative effects of rail-related trauma.

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