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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2000 Sep;39(9):1104-11.

Clinical and functional correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder in urban adolescent girls at a primary care clinic.

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1
National Center for PTSD, VA Connecticut, West Haven 06516, USA. lipschitz.deborah@west-haven.va.gov

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To identify clinical and functional correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in trauma-exposed urban adolescent girls.

METHOD:

Ninety female adolescents aged 12 to 21 years (mean 17.3 years) who presented for routine medical care at an adolescent primary care clinic were assessed with self-report questionnaires and interviews for trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress symptoms, other psychopathology, and psychosocial, family, and school function.

RESULTS:

Ninety-two percent (n = 83) endorsed at least one trauma. Witnessing community violence (85.6%) and hearing about a homicide (67.8%) were the most common traumatic events endorsed. Twelve (14.4%) and 10 (11.6%) traumatized girls met DSM-IV symptom criteria for full and partial PTSD, respectively. Compared with traumatized girls without PTSD, girls with PTSD were significantly more depressed, used more cigarettes and marijuana, and were more likely to have failed a school grade, been suspended from school, or been arrested.

CONCLUSIONS:

Urban adolescent girls are exposed to multiple types of trauma. Whereas most develop at least one posttraumatic stress symptom, girls who meet full symptom criteria for PTSD show evidence of other psychopathology, increased cigarette and marijuana use, and poorer school performance. Further research is needed to identify and treat inner-city girls with PTSD.

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