Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Trauma and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Detained Youth
Report suggests that witnessing violence can perpetuate cycle of violence
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released the results of a new study, “PTSD, Trauma and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Detained Youth,” which was conducted b the Northwestern Juvenile Project. The report was authored by Karen M. Abram, Linda A. Teplin, Devon C. King, Sandra L. Longworth, Kristin M. Emanuel, Erin G. Romero, Gary M. McClelland, Mina K. Dulcan, Jason J. Washburn, Leah J. Welty, and Nichole D. Olson.
Highlights of the study, taken from the report, include:
Of the study sample, 92.5 percent of youth had experienced at least
one trauma, 84 percent had experienced more than one trauma, and
56.8 percent were exposed to trauma six or more times.
,li> Witnessing violence, the most common trauma, was far more common
in this study sample than in most community studies of youth and
More than 1 in 10 detainees had PTSD in the year prior to the
Among participants with PTSD, 93 percent had at least one comorbid
psychiatric disorder. Among males, having any psychiatric diagnosis
significantly increased the odds of having comorbid PTSD
According to Wikipedia, “A comorbidity is a disease or condition that coexists with a primary disease but also stands on it's own as a specific disease.” Findings from “PTSD, Trauma and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Detained Youth,” include:
92.5 percent of participating youth had experienced at least one trauma. Most (84.0 percent) had experienced more than one trauma .Significantly more males (93.2 percent) than females (84.0 percent) reported a traumatic experience. No significant differences in overall prevalence of trauma across race/ethnicity for males and females were found. Among both male and female detainees, significantly more youth ages 14–18 (94.2 percent of males; 86.5 percent of females) reported trauma than youth ages 10–13 (82.4 percent of males; 59.1 percent of females).
the three most frequently reported traumas among both males and females were having seen or heard someone get badly hurt or be killed (“witnessing violence,” reported by 74.9 percent of males and 63.5 percent of females), having been threatened with a weapon (reported by 59.3 percent of males and 47.3 percent of females), and being in a situation where they thought they or someone close to them was going to be badly hurt or die (reported by 53.5 percent of males and 49.1 percent of females).
Among male participants, witnessing violence (“having seen or heard someone get hurt very badly or be killed”) was the most frequent precipitating trauma for PTSD, significantly higher among males (58.9 percent) than female (23.5 percent). Among female participants, thinking “you or someone close to you was going to be hurt very badly or die” was the most frequent precipitating trauma, significantly higher among females (27.8 percent) than males (9.5 percent).
Males and females with PTSD were between 2 and 3.7 times more likely to have any substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder, and both alcohol and drug use disorders than did males and females without PTSD. Males with PTSD also were between 3.2 and 9 times more likely to have a comorbid psychiatric disorder, an anxiety disorder, or a drug use disorder compared to males without PTSD. Having PTSD did not significantly increase the odds of having an affective or behavioral disorder for either males or females. Males with PTSD were 3.4 times more likely to have a comorbid psychiatric disorder than females with PTSD.
Exposure to trauma is common among detained youth. More than 90 percent of the participants experienced at least one traumatic event; 56.8 percent were exposed six or more times.
The report makes the followingrecommendations:
Increase studies of vulnerability to PTSD among high-risk youth. More than 90 percent ofthe sample had been exposed to one or more traumas. More than 1 in 10 youth in the sample met the criteria for PTSD in the year prior to the interview. Future research must determine the relative risk of PTSD for
types of trauma (e.g., witnessing murder, being shot, witnessing ongoing domestic violence, sudden loss of a loved one) among youth who are frequently exposed to trauma and violence, such as the study participants. Such studies could document factors that increase resilience to PTSD among high-risk youth and guide the development and implementation of prevention strategies.
Conduct longitudinal studies of chronic community violence and its relationship to PTSD. Research suggests that chronic exposure to violence may have more deleterious effects on children than acute violence Living with widespread or chronic community violence in the inner city has been compared with living in a war zone. Future research must study the effects of chronic community violence on high-risk youth as they become adults . and should examine the role that witnessing violence plays in perpetuating the cycle of violence. Such research could improve both trauma-informed care and violence prevention interventions among youth and adults in high-crime areas.