Risk of Trauma Exposure and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: An Examination of the Separate and Combined Effects of Race, Gender, and Poverty Status

Lori R. Wallace, Yale University
Rachel Snow, University of Michigan
Arline Geronimus, University of Michigan

One of the most consistent finding in the literature on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is that females experience approximately 2x greater risk of the disorder compared to males. However, these estimates are based on examinations of the isolated effects of gender. The combined effects of gender and key sociodemographic and contextual factors like race and poverty status are rarely examined. To address this gap, this paper examines the prevalence and risk of trauma exposure and PTSD in a representative African American and non-Hispanic White sample, stratified by gender, race, poverty status, and a combination thereof. Study results showed that the significant gender differences in the conditional risk of PTSD that have typically been reported were not always evident when the combined effects of these risk factors were taken into account. Thus, future PTSD studies must consider effects across multiple socio-demographic and contextual dimensions or important differences may be masked.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Adult Health and Mortality