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J Trauma Stress. 2014 Apr;27(2):182-91. doi: 10.1002/jts.21894. Epub 2014 Mar 21.

Posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder comorbidity among individuals with physical disabilities: findings from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.

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  • 1Treatment Innovations, Newton Centre, Massachusetts, USA; Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.


Co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD) affects multiple domains of functioning and presents complex challenges to recovery. Using data from the National Comorbidity Study Replication, a national epidemiological study of mental disorders (weighted N = 4,883), the current study sought to determine the prevalence of PTSD and SUD, the symptom presentation of these disorders, and help-seeking behaviors in relation to PTSD and SUD among individuals with physical disabilities (weighted n = 491; nondisabled weighted n = 4,392). Results indicated that individuals with physical disabilities exhibited higher rates of PTSD, SUD, and comorbid PTSD/SUD than nondisabled individuals. For example, they were 2.6 times more likely to meet criteria for lifetime PTSD, 1.5 times more likely for lifetime SUD, and 3.6 times more likely for lifetime PTSD/SUD compared to their nondisabled peers. Additionally, individuals with physical disabilities endorsed more recent/severe PTSD symptoms and more lifetime trauma events than nondisabled individuals with an average of 5 different trauma events compared to 3 in the nondisabled group. No significant pattern of differences was noted for SUD symptom presentation, or for receipt of lifetime or past-year PTSD or SUD treatment. Implications of these findings and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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