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Am J Psychiatry. 1997 Nov;154(11):1582-8.

Prevalence and characteristics of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder in a southwestern American Indian community.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neurogenetics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Rockville, Md. USA.



High rates of violence and trauma in many American Indian communities have been reported. The authors investigated the relationship between both the frequency and type of traumatic events and the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a Southwestern American Indian tribe.


A structured psychiatric interview and the Traumatic Events Booklet were administered to a subset of 247 tribal members from an overall study population of 582. Subjects were recruited from the community on the basis of membership in pedigrees, and not by convenience. DSM-III-R diagnoses were assigned by consensus after the interviews were evaluated blindly by independent raters.


The prevalence of lifetime PTSD was 21.9% (N = 54), and 81.4% of the subjects (N = 201) had experienced at least one traumatic event apiece. The most predictive factor for lifetime PTSD among women was the experience of physical assault, and for men the most predictive factors were a history of combat and having experienced more than 10 traumatic events.


In this Southwestern American Indian community, the prevalences of lifetime PTSD and of exposure to a traumatic event were higher than in the general U.S. population. However, the nearly 4:1 ratio of subjects who reported at least one traumatic event to those with PTSD diagnoses is similar to findings from studies of non-Indians. Individuals with a history of multiple traumatic events (66.0%, N = 163) had a significantly higher risk of developing PTSD. Chronic and multiple trauma did not preclude the identification of acute and discrete traumatic events that resulted in PTSD.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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