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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2013 Aug;48(8):1199-209. doi: 10.1007/s00127-013-0689-8. Epub 2013 Apr 23.

Trauma and current symptoms of PTSD in a South East London community.

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Academic Department Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, 10 Cutcombe Road, London, SE5 9RJ, UK.



This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its association with traumatic events in a representative sample of an inner city population in the UK.


A representative community sample of 1,698 adults, aged 16 years and over, from two south London boroughs were interviewed face to face with structured survey questionnaires.


The prevalence of current symptoms of PTSD was 5.5 %. Women were more likely to screen positive (6.4 %) than men (3.6 %), and symptoms of PTSD were high in the unemployed (12.5 %), in those not working because of health reasons (18.2 %) and in the lowest household income group (14.8 %). Most (78.2 %) of the study population had lifetime trauma and more than a third (39.7 %) reported childhood trauma. There was an independent association between childhood as well as lifetime trauma and current symptoms of PTSD and a gradient association between an increase in cumulative traumatic events and the likelihood of reporting symptoms of current PTSD (OR 1.8, 95 % CI (1.6-2.1)). Although we observed the highest prevalence of current symptoms of PTSD in those migrated for asylum or political reason (13.6 %), compared to the non-migrants, the prevalence of exposure to most traumatic life events was higher in the non-migrant group.


The present study demonstrates the high prevalence of exposure to trauma in a South East London community and the cumulative effect on current symptoms of PTSD. As PTSD is a condition which is associated with disability and co-morbidity, the association of current PTSD with common adversities in the community should be noted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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