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J Ambul Care Manage. 2006 Jan-Mar;29(1):71-86.

Posttraumatic stress disorder and health status: the veterans health study.

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  • 1Normative Aging Study, Boston VA Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA.


This article examines the association between self-reported prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and health status in a sample of 2425 male Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ambulatory care patients who participated in the Veterans Health Study. Participants were recruited at 1 of 4 VA outpatient clinics in the Boston area. They completed self-report measures of PTSD (using the PTSD Checklist and measures of exposure to traumatic events), depression (using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies--Depression scale), and health status (using the Short-Form-36) and a medical history interview assessing 22 conditions and a history of psychiatric treatment. The screening prevalence of PTSD was 20.2% among all patients (24.3% among those exposed to traumatic events); another 15.5% met the criteria for depression but not PTSD. The health status of patients with either PTSD or depression was significantly worse than that of patients with neither disorder, even after controlling for age, education, and number of comorbid medical conditions. Patients with PTSD reported more medical conditions than did other patients. Patients with PTSD currently in mental health treatment had worse health status than did those who reported no treatment; the health status of patients who reported past mental health treatment was generally comparable to that of those with no treatment. The prevalence and comorbidity of PTSD among this sample of VA ambulatory care patients were higher than previously reported among samples of community-residing adults. The association of PTSD with health status was substantial, suggesting that the burden of PTSD is at least comparable to, and may be worse than, that of depression. Mental health treatment alleviated some of this burden. The potential impact of PTSD on health status should be more widely recognized.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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