Determinants of the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, in the general population

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2014 Mar;49(3):447-57. doi: 10.1007/s00127-013-0762-3.


Purpose: To assess (1) the lifetime prevalence of exposure both to trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); (2) the risk of PTSD by type of trauma; and (3) the determinants of the development of PTSD in the community.

Methods: The Diagnostic Interview for Genetic Studies was administered to a random sample of an urban area (N = 3,691).

Results: (1) The lifetime prevalence estimates of exposure to trauma and PTSD were 21.0 and 5.0%; respectively, with a twice as high prevalence of PTSD in women compared to men despite a similar likelihood of exposure in the two sexes; (2) Sexual abuse was the trauma involving the highest risk of PTSD; (3) The risk of PTSD was most strongly associated with sexual abuse followed by preexisting bipolar disorder, alcohol dependence, antisocial personality, childhood separation anxiety disorder, being victim of crime, witnessing violence, Neuroticism and Problem-focused coping strategies. After adjustment for these characteristics, female sex was no longer found to be significantly associated with the risk of PTSD.

Conclusions: The risk for the development of PTSD after exposure to traumatic events is associated with several factors including the type of exposure, preexisting psychopathology, personality features and coping strategies which independently contribute to the vulnerability to PTSD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Cities / statistics & numerical data
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroticism
  • Personality
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Violence
  • Young Adult