Psychological Medicine

Brief Communication

Post-traumatic stress disorder in primary-care settings: prevalence and physicians' detection

O.  TAUBMAN-BEN-ARI  a1, J.  RABINOWITZ  a1 c1, D.  FELDMAN  a1 and R.  VATURI  a1
a1 School of Social Work, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel


Background. Little is known about the prevalence of PTSD in primary-care settings and regarding the ability of primary-care physicians to detect PTSD. The current study examines prevalence of PTSD in a national sample of primary-care attenders and primary-care physicians' detection of PTSD and general psychological distress in PTSD patients.

Methods. Data are from a national study of 2975 primary-care attenders in Israel. Demographic data, responses to the GHQ-28, PTSD Inventory and physicians' diagnoses were examined.

Results. Twenty-three per cent of all patients who attended clinics (N=684) reported traumatic events, 39% of whom (males 37%, females 40%) met criteria for PTSD on the PTSD Inventory. Eighty per cent of the males and 92% of the females with PTSD were distressed according to the GHQ. According to physicians, 37% of persons who reported trauma (40% of the women, 32% of the men) suffered from psychological distress. Only 2% of patients meeting PTSD criteria on the self-report measure were given a diagnoses of PTSD by physicians.

Conclusions. Many primary-care patients suffer from PTSD, which is usually accompanied by major psychological distress. Attention by primary-care physicians to a history of trauma could improve physicians' detection of this disabling disorder.

c1 Address for correspondence: Professor Jonathan Rabinowitz, School of Social Work, Bar-Ilan University, 52900 Ramat-Gan, Israel.