The relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder, psychiatric comorbidity, and personality traits among patients with chronic idiopathic urticaria

Man Cheung Chung, Christine Symons, Jane Gilliam, Edward R Kaminski
Comprehensive Psychiatry 2010, 51 (1): 55-63

BACKGROUND: Several studies have highlighted the link between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and physical illnesses. No empirical studies, however, have investigated the relationship between PTSD and chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU). The role of personality traits in this relationship was also unknown.

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate (1) the extent to which patients with CIU fulfilled the PTSD diagnosis resulting from past traumas and (2) whether they developed psychiatric comorbidity, and (3) the relationship between CIU patients' personality traits, PTSD diagnosis, severity of CIU, and psychiatric comorbidity.

METHODS: One hundred patients with CIU and 60 patients with allergy (control) participated in the study. Patients' CIU severity was assessed. Both groups completed the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale, the General Health Questionnaire-28, the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, the Perceived Stress Scale, and the NEO-Five Factor Inventory.

RESULTS: Thirty-four percent of patients with CIU and 18% of allergy patients met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Patients with CIU were 1.89 times more likely to have a current diagnosis of PTSD than the control group. Controlling for life event stress and perceived stress, significant differences were found between groups (CIU PTSD, CIU no PTSD, allergy PTSD, allergy no PTSD) in somatic problems, anxiety, and social dysfunction. Controlling for life event stress and perceived stress, regression analyses showed no significant associations between personality traits, PTSD diagnosis, and the severity of CIU. Posttraumatic stress disorder diagnosis and neuroticism were, however, associated with psychiatric comorbidity.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with CIU have been shown to have concurrent PTSD resulting from past traumas and developed psychiatric comorbidity. Chronic idiopathic urticaria patients' comorbidity was related to the patients' PTSD diagnosis and their neurotic personality trait.

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