Posttraumatic stress disorder, health problems, and depression among african American women in residential substance use treatment

Sarah Meshberg-Cohen, Candice Presseau, Leroy R. Thacker, Kathryn Hefner, Dace Svikis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are high among women seeking treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs). Minority women, in particular, experience high rates of trauma and may be less likely to disclose trauma history. This article identifies items from pre-existing screening measures that can be used across settings to sensitively but noninvasively identify women with likely PTSD. Method: For a sample of 104 African American women in residential SUD treatment who provided informed consent as a part of a larger randomized clinical trial, the prevalence of trauma and PTSD, as well as the relationships between trauma, health, depression, and distress, was examined. Measures included Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS), Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D), Pennebaker Inventory of Limbic Languidness (PILL), and Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). Additional analyses were undertaken to determine if a subset of noninvasive items could serve to identify the presence of a probable PTSD diagnosis. Results: Most women (94.2%) reported at least one lifetime trauma, with over half (51.0%) meeting DSM-IV criteria for PTSD. Women with greater trauma symptom severity reported more health problems and higher levels of depression and distress. Five BSI items and one CES-D item were significantly associated with a probable PTSD diagnosis with a sensitivity of 88.7%, a specificity of 66.7%, a positive predictive value of 73.4%, a negative predictive value of 85.0%, and an accuracy of 77.9%. Conclusion: Findings affirm that African American women with SUDs present for residential treatment with comorbid psychiatric and emotional conditions that warrant assessment and treatment. Results highlight potential benefits of brief screening with routine measures and coordinated access to ancillary psychiatric and medical services, in conjunction with substance treatment, such as in residential or primary care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-737
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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