Posttraumatic stress disorder and psychiatric comorbidity among detained youths

Karen M. Abram*, Jason J. Washburn, Linda A. Teplin, Kristin M. Emanuel, Erin G. Romero, Gary M. McClelland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Objective: This study examined the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and comorbid psychiatric disorders among juvenile detainees. Methods: The sample consisted of a stratified random sample of 898 youths aged ten to 18 years who were arrested and detained in Chicago. Results: Among participants with PTSD, 93% had at least one comorbid psychiatric disorder; however, among those without PTSD, 64% had at least one comorbid psychiatric disorder. Over half (54%) of the participants with PTSD had two or more types of comorbid disorders-that is, affective, anxiety, behavioral, or substance use disorders-and 11% had all four types of comorbid disorders. Among males, having any psychiatric diagnosis significantly increased the odds of having comorbid PTSD. Among females, alcohol use disorder and both alcohol and drug use disorders significantly increased the odds of having PTSD. No significant difference in prevalence rates of PTSD was found between males and females with specific psychiatric disorders. The prevalence of any comorbid psychiatric disorder was significantly greater for males with PTSD than that for females with PTSD (OR=3.4, CI= 1.1-10.6, p<.05). Conclusions: Detection of comorbid PTSD among detained youths must be improved. PTSD is often missed because traumatic experiences are rarely included in standard screens or volunteered by patients. When planning treatment, clinicians must consider ramifications of comorbid PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1311-1316
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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