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N Engl J Med. 1987 Dec 24;317(26):1630-4.

Post-traumatic stress disorder in the general population. Findings of the epidemiologic catchment area survey.

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Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110.


There have been numerous studies of post-traumatic stress disorder in trauma victims, war veterans, and residents of communities exposed to disaster. Epidemiologic studies of this syndrome in the general population are rare but add an important perspective to our understanding of it. We report findings on the epidemiology of post-traumatic stress disorder in 2493 participants examined as part of a nationwide general-population survey of psychiatric disorders. The prevalence of a history of post-traumatic stress disorder was 1 percent in the total population, about 3.5 percent in civilians exposed to physical attack and in Vietnam veterans who were not wounded, and 20 percent in veterans wounded in Vietnam. Post-traumatic stress disorder was associated with a variety of other adult psychiatric disorders. Behavioral problems before the age of 15 predicted adult exposure to physical attack and (among Vietnam veterans) to combat, as well as the development of post-traumatic stress disorder among those so exposed. Although some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as hyperalertness and sleep disturbances, occurred commonly in the general population, the full syndrome as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, third edition, was common only among veterans wounded in Vietnam.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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