Homicide as a Source of Posttraumatic Stress?: A Meta-Analysis of the Prevalence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder After Committing Homicide

J Trauma Stress. 2021 Apr;34(2):345-356. doi: 10.1002/jts.22630. Epub 2020 Nov 25.


There is a growing body of literature on the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after committing homicide that has examined the prevalence of this phenomenon among individuals who have been convicted, but these studies considerably vary. The present study was the first meta-analysis to synthesize scientific evidence regarding the prevalence of offense-related PTSD among convicted killers. A total of 691 articles were identified through an initial screening process, and the final analysis included 11 studies that met the analysis criteria. We examined the prevalence of PTSD after committing homicide and explored how these rates varied by sample type, offender type, diagnosis timeframe, and diagnosis type. Among adult offenders, the pooled prevalence was 42.6%, 95% CI [38.0%, 47.4%], for current full-criteria homicide-related PTSD and 13.1%, 95% CI [9.9%, 17.2%], for current partial-criteria homicide-related PTSD. For mixed offenders (i.e., killers and violent offenders), the pooled prevalence of current full-criteria offense-related PTSD was 33.1% (95% CI [14.1, 59.8]). Thus, we found that PTSD prevalence was higher in killers than mixed offenders, although this difference was not statistically significant. Finally, among youth mixed offenders, the pooled prevalence for current full-criteria offense-related PTSD was 5.3%, 95% CI [2.9%, 9.5%]. These findings provide evidence of the high rate of this phenomenon, especially among convicted adults.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Criminals / psychology*
  • Criminals / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Homicide / psychology*
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology