Monkeypox-induced secondary traumatic stress: An exploratory analysis of young sexual and gender minority adults living in Illinois

Michael G. Curtis*, Shahin Davoudpour, Dylan Felt, Audrey L. French, Sybil G. Hosek, Gregory Phillips, Pedro A. Serrano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Prior epidemic literature suggests that the rapid proliferation of Monkeypox (Mpox) within the United States may trigger severe stress reactions that increase the risk of developing secondary traumatic stress among young adults most at risk of exposure. The present exploratory study aimed to investigate the degree to which proximity to Mpox (i.e. knowing people who acquired Mpox), was associated with symptoms of secondary traumatization. Method: An online survey was administered to 253 participants enrolled in Keeping it LITE, a prospective U.S. cohort study of ethnically diverse, sexually active, sexual and gender minority persons ages 19–39 in September 2022. A multiple linear regression was used to examine the association between proximity to Mpox and secondary traumatic stress (STS) symptoms. Results: Study findings demonstrated that Mpox morbidity was low (1 %); however, 37 % of participants reported knowing at least one person diagnosed with Mpox. For most individuals, this person was a friend (28 %). 16 % of participants were found to have at least one indicator of Mpox-related STS. Results of our multiple linear regression demonstrated a positive association between an individual's indirect exposure to Mpox via their interpersonal relationships and STS symptoms. Conclusions: Findings suggest that the more adults’ interpersonal relationships are saturated with people who have acquired Mpox, the more likely they are to develop symptoms of secondary traumatization. These findings provide tentative initial evidence that secondary exposure to Mpox via one's social network may undermine adults’ mental health even after the conclusion of the outbreak.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100349
JournalEuropean Journal of Trauma and Dissociation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Mental health
  • Monkeypox
  • Secondary trauma
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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