Date of Award

Fall 10-23-2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Marcia Bennett, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Margit Berman, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Mark Carlson-Ghost, Ph.D.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between bully victimization and psychosomatic symptoms, and to examine the protective influence of perceived parent and peer support across developmental age groups. Bully victimization frequency, somatic symptom severity, perceived parent support, and perceived peer support were assessed using archival data from 7,304 youth who participated in the 2009-2010 Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC) U.S. survey, excluding perpetrators of bullying. Bully victimization and somatic symptoms were significantly positively correlated. Older adolescents consistently reported more severe somatic symptoms, but age did not moderate the relationship between bullying and somatic symptoms. Higher levels of parental support were associated with less severe somatic symptoms, but parental support did not act as a buffer protecting bullied youth from somatic symptoms, nor did this relationship differ by age. Having more peer support was found to strengthen the relationship between bullying and somatic symptoms only at high levels of bully victimization, but this interaction effect was not further moderated by age. Peer support was not associated with somatic symptoms overall. However, older adolescents who had high levels of peer support had more severe somatic symptoms, whereas there was no relationship between peer support and somatic symptoms in younger cohorts. Previous research has suggested that co-rumination between peers about their negative experiences may lead to increased internalizing symptoms, which may explain current findings related to the impact of more peer support on somatic symptoms due to greater attentional focus. These findings demonstrate the clinical importance of assessing and addressing somatic symptoms among bullied youth as early as possible by educating and involving individuals from the many systems involved in youth’s lives in treatment and early preventative interventions.


SC 11.PsyD.2022.Paulson.T