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Over 60% of US adolescents have experienced a potentially traumatic event, almost 8% of whom have associated PTSD

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Question: What proportion of adolescents have been exposed to potentially traumatic events, and to what extent does this correlate with prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder?

Population: 6483 adolescents (aged 13–17 years) and their parents. Of these adolescents, 879 were members of households participating in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) of adult mental health disorders, or recruited from schools in NCS-R sample areas. The study only included adolescent–parent pairs for whom full data was available.

Setting: Community sample, USA; 2001 February to 2004 January.

Assessment: Adolescents were interviewed in person to assess lifetime Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)-IV disorders using a modified version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). Parents provided information on child symptoms of mental health disorders using a long-form self-administered questionnaire.

Outcomes: Lifetime exposure to potentially traumatic events (PTEs) and DSM-IV post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The CIDI was used to assess 19 PTEs that qualified for the DSM-IV A1 criterion: 9 types of interpersonal violence; 5 types of accident; 3 types of witnessing and network events (such as unexpected death of a loved one); and 2 open-ended questions about PTEs not …

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  • Sources of funding The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


  • Competing interests None.

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