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J Trauma Stress. 2015 Dec;28(6):523-30. doi: 10.1002/jts.22051. Epub 2015 Nov 19.

PTSD Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Custody in Australia: Prevalence and Correlates.

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School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Metro North Hospital and Health Service, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Mental disorder and trauma experiences are highly prevalent among individuals in custody; however, the impact of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on functioning is rarely considered. Indigenous Australians are incarcerated at 13 times the rate of nonindigenous Australians and report high levels of trauma exposure and psychological distress. In analysis of the largest systematic study of mental disorder among indigenous Australians in custody (N = 396), we found that the 12-month prevalence of PTSD was high in both men (12.1%) and women (32.3%). Having PTSD was also associated with high rates of co-occurring mental disorders (anxiety 31.2%, depression 32.8%, psychosis 24.6%, and substance use, 75.4%), lifetime suicidal ideation (50.1%), and suicide attempts (34.4%). Individuals with PTSD, compared to those without, were more likely to experience other mental disorders, OR = 2.42, 95% CI [1.12, 5.80], p = .022; lifetime suicide thoughts, OR = 2.43, 95% CI [1.34, 4.39], p = .001, and attempts, OR = 2.56, 95% CI [1.33, 4.83], p = .002; and high rates of intoxication at the time of arrest. Despite this, most (58.9%) had not accessed any form of mental health care prior to incarceration. These findings highlight the need to identify and manage PTSD in community and custodial populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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