The prevalence and correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder in a national sample of Canadians

Reitsma, Benjamin Tyler (2023) The prevalence and correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder in a national sample of Canadians. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Exposure to traumatic events is an unfortunately ubiquitous experience across the Canadian population, and a significant minority of those exposed to trauma develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Individuals meeting a diagnosis of PTSD often experience a range of complications, including poorer health outcomes, comorbid mental health diagnoses, less frequent employment, and lower income. A majority of PTSD research has been conducted in the United States, and often relates specifically to combat veterans. Understanding the prevalence and complexity of PTSD diagnosis in a Canadian, non-military sample is important to better recognize the clinical needs of those affected by PTSD. The objective of this study was to examine the prevalence and correlates of self-reported PTSD diagnoses in a community sample of Canadian adults. Using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health (2012), the prevalence of PTSD was 1.8% with the majority of those being women (66.1%). Individuals reporting a diagnosis of PTSD (n= 425) were then compared to age- and gender-matched controls without PTSD on demographic variables and rates of psychiatric comorbidities. Individuals with PTSD were more likely to have also experienced a Major Depressive Episode, suicidal ideation, or met criteria for alcohol dependence, cannabis dependence, or non-cannabis drug dependence (each for both lifetime and within the last 12 months), as well as lifetime cannabis abuse. They were also more likely to have reported comorbid Bipolar I Disorder or Bipolar II Disorder (lifetime and 12-month prevalence) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (12-month prevalence). Those with PTSD were more likely to be divorced/separated, less likely to be married, more likely to report incomes under 20,000 dollars per year, and less likely to report incomes above 50,000 dollars per year. Gender differences were also noted among those with PTSD. Men with PTSD were more likely to meet criteria for lifetime cannabis abuse or dependence, alcohol dependence (both lifetime and 12-month prevalence), as well as a yearly income over $50,000. Women with PTSD were more likely to meet criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Major Depressive Episode (lifetime), and more likely to report suicidal ideation (both lifetime and 12-month prevalence). Women with PTSD were also more likely to report an income under $20,000. The implications of these findings and study limitations are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 16323
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 77-101)
Keywords: trauma, PTSD, CCHS, comorbidity
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: December 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Post-traumatic stress disorder--Canada; Psychic trauma--Canada; Mental health services--Canada—Statistics; Canadian Community Health Survey--Mental Health--2012

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