PTSD, cyberbullying and peer violence: prevalence and correlates among adolescent emergency department patients

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. Mar-Apr 2016;39:32-8. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2015.12.002. Epub 2015 Dec 18.


Objective: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often underdiagnosed and undertreated among adolescents. The objective of this analysis was to describe the prevalence and correlates of symptoms consistent with PTSD among adolescents presenting to an urban emergency department (ED).

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of adolescents aged 13-17 years presenting to the ED for any reason was conducted between August 2013 and March 2014. Validated self-report measures were used to measure mental health symptoms, violence exposure and risky behaviors. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to determine adjusted differences in associations between symptoms consistent with PTSD and predicted correlates.

Results: Of 353 adolescents, 23.2% reported current symptoms consistent with PTSD, 13.9% had moderate or higher depressive symptoms and 11.3% reported past-year suicidal ideation. Adolescents commonly reported physical peer violence (46.5%), cyberbullying (46.7%) and exposure to community violence (58.9%). On multivariate logistic regression, physical peer violence, cyberbullying victimization, exposure to community violence, female gender and alcohol or other drug use positively correlated with symptoms consistent with PTSD.

Conclusions: Among adolescents presenting to the ED for any reason, symptoms consistent with PTSD, depressive symptoms, physical peer violence, cyberbullying and community violence exposure are common and interrelated. Greater attention to PTSD, both disorder and symptom levels, and its cooccurring risk factors is needed.

Keywords: Adolescent; Cyberbullying; Emergency department; PTSD; Violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bullying / statistics & numerical data*
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Prevalence
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*