Skip to main content Accessibility help

Vulnerability to assaultive violence: further specification of the sex difference in post-traumatic stress disorder

  • N. BRESLAU (a1), H. D. CHILCOAT (a1), R. C. KESSLER (a1), E. L. PETERSON (a1) and V. C. LUCIA (a1)...
    • Published online: 01 July 1999

Background. We examine potential sources of the sex differences in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the community.

Methods. Data were obtained from a representative sample of 2181 persons aged 18–45 years in the Detroit primary metropolitan statistical area, which is a six-county area containing more than four million residents. A random digit dialling method was used to select the sample and a computer-assisted telephone interview was used to obtain the data. DSM-IV PTSD was assessed with respect to a randomly selected trauma from the list of qualifying traumas reported by each respondent.

Results. The lifetime prevalence of exposure and the mean number of traumas were lower in females than males. The overall conditional risk of PTSD (i.e. the probability of PTSD among those exposed to a trauma) was approximately twofold higher in females than males, adjusting for the sex difference in the distribution of trauma types. The sex difference was due primarily to females' greater risk following assaultive violence. The sex difference in the avoidance and numbing symptom group following assaultive violence exceeded the sex differences in other symptom groups.

Conclusions. Future research should focus on sex differences in the response to assaultive violence, including potential explanations for females' greater probability to experience avoidance and numbing.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Dr Naomi Breslau, Department of Psychiatry, Henry Ford Health Sciences Center, One Ford Place 3A, Detroit, MI 48202-3450, USA.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed