Trauma: Prevalence, Impairment, Service Use, and Cost

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A review of the literature on the epidemiology of trauma reveals that traumatic events are common: most Americans experience at least one over the course of their lives. According to recent estimates, 5% of men and 10% to 12% of women will suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sometime in their lives, and for victims of traumas such as rape, the rate may be as high as 60% to 80%. For at least a third of sufferers, PTSD is a persistent condition lasting many years. Over 80% of persons with PTSD suffer from other psychiatric disorders. Many also experience marital, occupational, financial, and health problems. While trauma victims are disproportionate users of the health care system, they are reluctant to seek mental health treatment. Consequences of exposure to trauma are enormously costly, not only to the victims, but also to our health care system and to society as a whole.

J Clin Psychiatry 1997;58(suppl 9):5–11