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Behav Res Ther. 2000 Jun;38(6):619-28.

Gender differences in susceptibility to posttraumatic stress disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0985, USA.


We examined data from a community survey of trauma exposure and DSM-IV PTSD in Winnipeg, Canada to explore factors associated with the higher rate of PTSD in women than men. Women were found to be at significantly increased risk for PTSD following exposure to serious trauma (odds ratio approximately 5), even when sexual trauma--which predominates in women--was excluded (odds ratio approximately 3). Adjusting for gender differences in the number of lifetime traumata, or in the likelihood of the trauma being associated with particular reactions to or consequences of the event (i.e. thinking that one would be killed or seriously injured; sustaining a serious physical injury; seeing someone else seriously injured or killed) did not result in a lessening of the PTSD risk in women. Women were found to be at increased risk for PTSD following nonsexual assaultive violence (e.g. mugging or other physical attack) but not following non-assaultive trauma (e.g. fire, witnessing injury to others). Understanding the basis of (and parameters for) this increased susceptibility to PTSD in women compared to men following trauma exposure should be a priority for future traumatic stress research.

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