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Post-traumatic stress disorder in forensic inpatients

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Given the high prevalence of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the general population, psychiatric patients and criminal offenders, this study investigated the frequency of traumatic events, PTSD and subsyndromal variants in forensic patients as well as associated psychopathological distress. A total of 53 patients (51 men; two women) with a mean age of 32.6 years (SD=9.0) were studied with a structured interview for the assessment of current and lifetime PTSD (Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale, CAPS) and a set of self-report measures on PTSD-related and dissociative symptoms as well as general psychopathology (MPSS; DES; SCL-90-R). We found that 64% of our study population reported at least one traumatic experience, and 56% of these met lifetime criteria for PTSD. At the time of assessment nine patients suffered from PTSD. Lifetime prevalence for partial PTSD was 23%, and for current conditions 15%, respectively. Patients with additional PTSD showed significantly more subjective distress on self-report questionnaires than those with a subsyndromal variant and those without PTSD. Our finding that exposure to traumatic events and associated full and partial PTSD are frequently found in forensic patients has important implications for the assessment, therapy and rehabilitative programmes.
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Keywords: DISSOCIATION; FORENSIC SETTING; FULL AND PARTIAL PTSD; POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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