Purpose of review
This review discusses recent findings from epidemiological surveys of traumatic events and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) globally, including their prevalence, risk factors, and consequences in the community.
A number of studies on the epidemiology of PTSD have recently been published from diverse countries, with new methodological innovations introduced. Such work has not only documented the prevalence of PTSD in different settings, but has also shed new light on the PTSD conditional risk associated with specific traumatic events, and on the morbidity and comorbidities associated with these events.
Recent community studies show that trauma exposure is higher in lower-income countries compared with high-income countries. PTSD prevalence rates are largely similar across countries, however, with the highest rates being found in postconflict settings. Trauma and PTSD-risk factors are distributed differently in lower-income countries compared with high-income countries, with sociodemographic factors contributing more to this risk in high-income than low-income countries. Apart from PTSD, trauma exposure is also associated with several chronic physical conditions. These findings indicate a high burden of trauma exposure in low-income countries and postconflict settings, where access to trained mental health professionals is typically low.