Journal of the American Medical Association Studies Examine Effect of Post-Traumatic Stress
The Journal of the American Medical Association today published a series of studies on post-traumatic stress in a theme issue on violence and human rights, the AP/Boston Globe reports. Symptoms of the condition, which sometimes occurs after a person witnesses or is a victim of violence or a severe accident, include persistent flashbacks, avoidance of things that might trigger memories and "feeling emotionally numb," the AP/Globe reports. The studies underscore "the increasing appreciation of the complexity, ubiquity and inescapability of both personal and indirect exposure to trauma and violence," University of Minnesota psychiatrist Dr. Jerome Kroll wrote in an accompanying editorial (Tanner, AP/Boston Globe, 8/6). The following are summaries of the studies:
- One study notes that about 54% of 638 Latin-American immigrants who visited Los Angeles health clinics said they had been exposed to political violence in their home countries, but only about 3% of the respondents said they had reported such occurrences to their health care providers. About 36% of those exposed to political violence reported symptoms of depression, compared with 20% of those who had not been exposed (Maugh, Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
- In a second study, Tel Aviv University researchers found that more than 50% of 512 Israeli adults surveyed said they had been directly exposed to terrorism or had friends or relatives who were but only 9% exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
- In a controlled study of 126 California sixth-grade students, 75% of whom said they had experienced or witnessed violence, 10 sessions of school-based group therapy helped "substantially reduce symptoms" of post-traumatic stress, the AP/Boston Globe reports (AP/Boston Globe, 8/6).
- Another study notes that a new test for post-traumatic stress found that 25% of children from 171 families who answered yes to four questions about post-traumatic stress went on to develop the disorder. The test, called the Screening Tool for Early Predictions of PTSD, includes four yes-or-no questions that physicians ask children, four yes-or-no questions for a child's parents and four items from medical records (Bowman, Scripps Howard/Arizona Daily Star, 8/6).