JOURNAL ARTICLE

Gender differences in risk factors for trauma exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder among inner-city drug abusers in and out of treatment

L B Cottler, P Nishith, W M Compton
Comprehensive Psychiatry 2001, 42 (2): 111-7
11244146
Over the past two decades there has been a growing awareness of the comorbidity between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders in the general population. The purpose of these analyses was to examine, in a population of drug users, the role of gender in (1) predicting the nature of the traumatic event and PTSD symptoms, (2) patterns of substance use disorders in relation to trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms, (3) comorbidity of other psychiatric disorders with trauma exposure and PTSD, and (4) the temporal association of substance use disorder, exposure to trauma, and PTSD. Drug abusers (n = 464) were interviewed using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for DSM-III-R (DIS) and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview-Substance Abuse Module (CIDI-SAM). Although more women than men met criteria for DSM-III-R PTSD, there were no gender differences on endorsement for a traumatic event. Adult antisocial behavior, affective disorder, schizophrenia, other anxiety disorder and polysubstance use predicted exposure to an event, whereas, only schizophrenia and other anxiety disorder predicted PTSD. In men, drug use preceded the exposure to an event, while in women, the onset age for both drug use and exposure to an event were nearly identical. This work suggests implications for gender-based education and prevention interventions.

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