Trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychiatric disorders in a middle-income setting: prevalence and comorbidity

Sarah Dorrington, Helena Zavos, Harriet Ball, Peter McGuffin, Fruhling Rijsdijk, Sisira Siribaddana, Athula Sumathipala, Matthew Hotopf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Most studies of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have focused on 'high-risk' populations defined by exposure to trauma.

AIMS: To estimate the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a LMIC, the conditional probability of PTSD given a traumatic event and the strength of associations between traumatic events and other psychiatric disorders.

METHOD: Our sample contained a mix of 3995 twins and 2019 non-twins. We asked participants about nine different traumatic exposures, including the category 'other', but excluding sexual trauma.

RESULTS: Traumatic events were reported by 36.3% of participants and lifetime PTSD was present in 2.0%. Prevalence of non-PTSD lifetime diagnosis was 19.1%. Of people who had experienced three or more traumatic events, 13.3% had lifetime PTSD and 40.4% had a non-PTSD psychiatric diagnosis.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite high rates of exposure to trauma, this population had lower rates of PTSD than high-income populations, although the prevalence might have been slightly affected by the exclusion of sexual trauma. There are high rates of non-PTSD diagnoses associated with trauma exposure that could be considered in interventions for trauma-exposed populations. Our findings suggest that there is no unique relationship between traumatic experiences and the specific symptomatology of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-389
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Volume205
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders/epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sri Lanka/epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/epidemiology
  • Violence
  • Young Adult

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