Mark Shevlin

Stressful life events and psychological disorders in forensic settings: identifying tipping-points using regions of significance


It has been well established that exposure to stressful life events increases the risk of psychological disorders. Research evidence has shown that there is a ‘dose-response’ relationship between the number, or severity, of stressors and the increased risk of psychological disorder. However, it has also been shown that there are other variables that can moderate this relationship. For example, the combination of exposure to stressors and drug use has been shown to further increase the risks of psychological disorders. Similarly, there is evidence that some other variables (social support, resilience, etc) can attenuate the effect. Such moderating effects can be modelled statistically, but are not easily interpreted. This study will demonstrate the use of ‘regions of significance’ in testing and interpreting moderated effects, and how this can be used to identify ‘tipping points’. This approach allows the estimation of the level of the moderating variable that is associated with significantly higher or lower levels (or risk) of the outcome variable. Examples of the use of this technique in a forensic setting will be provided.