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The Relationship Between Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Self-Reported Health Problems

Lauterbach, Dean PhD; Vora, Rajvee MD; Rakow, Madeline BSW

Original Articles

Objective: There is increasing awareness that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) influences physical health. The current study used the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) data to determine if the physical health risk imparted by PTSD was an artifact of a broad range of empirically identified confounding variables.

Methods: Participants (n = 5877) were administered a modified version of the DSM-III-R PTSD module from the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS). The prevalence of 14 classes of physical disorders was assessed along with six groups of variables predictive of negative health outcomes (demographics, perception of health, stress, health-related behaviors, insurance coverage, trauma/psychiatric history, and neuroticism).

Results: The PTSD group had a higher frequency of most disorders and scored higher on variables predictive of negative health outcomes. To determine if the health risk imparted by PTSD was an artifact of these confounding variables, a mixed direct–sequential binary logistic regression was computed. After controlling for sex, health perceptions, stress, health-related behaviors, insurance coverage, total trauma exposure, total number of psychiatric diagnoses, and neuroticism, persons with PTSD were more likely to report the presence of a disorder.

Conclusions: Previous scholars have noted that PTSD could affect health outcomes. This study found that after controlling for a wide range of variables predictive of poor health, PTSD was predictive of poor health.

PTSD = posttraumatic stress disorder; NCS = National Comorbidity Survey; NVVRS = National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Survey; DIS = Diagnostic Interview Schedule.

From the Department of Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dean Lauterbach, PhD, 507 Mark Jefferson Hall, Department of Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197. E-mail dlauterba@emich.edu

Received for publication May 13, 2004; revision received April 5, 2005.

This study was supported through the following grants awarded to Ronald Kessler: R01 MH/DA46376 and R01 MH49098 (NIMH), supplement to R01 MH/DA46376 (NIDA), and 90135190 (W. T. Grant Foundation).

Portions of this paper were presented at the 19th annual conference of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Chicago, Illinois.

Copyright © 2005 by American Psychosomatic Society
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