March 1991

Traumatic Events and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in an Urban Population of Young Adults

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Breslau and Davis and Ms Andreski) and Biostatistics and Research Epidemiology (Drs Breslau and Peterson), Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Mich; and the University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor (Drs Breslau and Davis).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1991;48(3):216-222. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1991.01810270028003

• To ascertain the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and risk factors associated with it, we studied a random sample of 1007 young adults from a large health maintenance organization in the Detroit, Mich, area. The lifetime prevalence of exposure to traumatic events was 39.1%. The rate of PTSD in those who were exposed was 23.6%, yielding a lifetime prevalence in the sample of 9.2%. Persons with PTSD were at increased risk for other psychiatric disorders; PTSD had stronger associations with anxiety and affective disorders than with substance abuse or dependence. Risk factors for exposure to traumatic events included low education, male sex, early conduct problems, extraversion, and family history of psychiatric disorder or substance problems. Risk factors for PTSD following exposure included early separation from parents, neuroticism, preexisting anxiety or depression, and family history of anxiety. Life-style differences associated with differential exposure to situations that have a high risk for traumatic events and personal predispositions to the PTSD effects of traumatic events might be responsible for a substantial part of PTSD in this population.