Gender and age interact to predict the development of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms following a motor vehicle accident

After exposure to trauma, there is a greater overall risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for women than there is for men. Other sociodemographic factors have been identified as risk factors for PTSD, in addition to gender; however, typically these factors have been examined in the research separately. In the development of psychiatric disorders, age has been found to be a contributor, and there have been reports of both linear and curvilinear relationships between the risk of developing PTSD and age. It has been suggested by recent research that this relationship may be impacted by gender. A secondary analysis of data was performed by the authors from a prospective study of 287 (164 men, 123 women) motor vehicle accident (MVA) patients (aged 18-81) who completed clinical interviews 6-weeks, 6 months, and/or 1 year after an MVA. The results showed that, overall, more severe PTSD symptoms developed in women than men; however, amongst the young (18-24 years) and the old (55 and older) groups, gender differences were small. There was no association between age and PTSD symptoms at 6 weeks and 6 months post-MVA, in women; however at 1-year post-MVA, age was curvilinearly associated with PTSD severity, with middle-aged women reporting greater symptom severity than younger and older women. This relationship was mediated by prior trauma exposure and social support. While PTSD severity was not associated with age in men, it was related to social support and income. In conclusion, age-based subgroups of women at elevated risk for PTSD following a traumatic injury are highlighted by these findings, and it is suggested that the risk of persistent PTSD symptoms may be reduced by psychosocial intervention with middle-aged women following trauma exposure.


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  • Accession Number: 01722878
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 14 2019 12:19PM