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Open Access Mental health problems due to community violence exposure in a small urban setting

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC licence.

Objective: Studies conducted in large metropolitan inner-city communities with high violent crime rates have demonstrated an association between exposure to violence and mental health problems; therefore the purpose of this study was to determine if similar trends exist in smaller inner-city communities with substantially lower violent crime rates.

Methods: One hundred twenty-six children and young adults living in inner-city Omaha, Nebraska, were screened for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety symptoms and assessed for community violence exposure (CVE). Pearson’s correlation and analysis of variance were used to determine the relationship between PTSD, depression, and anxiety symptoms and CVE.

Results: A statistically significant relationship was found between CVE and PTSD and anxiety symptoms among participants despite their having lower rates of exposure to violent events in comparison with other studies. No association was found between violence and depression symptoms. Additionally, the presence of anxiety and depression, as well as increased age of participants, was associated with higher rates of PTSD symptoms.

Conclusion: We recommend that health care providers in smaller cities, where the effects of violent crime may be underestimated or overlooked, be informed of the existence of this public health problem within their community and that they screen at-risk patients for mental health problems.
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Keywords: Communityviolence; anxiety; depression; inner city; posttraumatic stress disorder

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2017-10-01

More about this publication?
  • Family Medicine and Community Health (FMCH) is an open-access journal focusing on subjects that are common and relevant to family medicine/general practice and community health. The journal publishes relevant content across disciplines such as epidemiology, public health, social and preventive medicine, research and evidence based medicine, community health service, patient education and health promotion and health ethics. The journal has a specific focus on the management of chronic illness particularly diabetes, ischaemic heart disease, chronic heart failure, hypertension, bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and common mental illness. FMCH is published by Compuscript http://www.compuscript.com on behalf of the Chinese General Practice Press http://www.chinagp.net.

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