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Epidemiology of interpersonal trauma among women and men psychiatric inpatients: a population-based study


Objective — Small clinical samples suggest that psychiatric inpatients report a lifetime history of interpersonal trauma. Since past experiences of trauma may complicate prognosis and treatment trajectories, population-level knowledge is needed about its prevalence and correlates among inpatients.

Methods — Using health-administrative databases comprising all adult psychiatric inpatients in Ontario, Canada (2009 to 2016, n = 160,436, 49% women), we identified those who reported experiencing physical, sexual, and/or emotional trauma in their lifetime, 1 year, and 30 days preceding admission. We described the prevalence of each type of trauma, comparing women and men using modified Poisson regression, and identified individual-level characteristics associated with lifetime trauma history using multivariable logistic regression.

Results — 31.7% of inpatients reported experiencing trauma prior to admission. Lifetime prevalence was higher in women (39.6% vs. 24.1%; age-adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 1.68; 95% CI, 1.65 to 1.71), including sexual (22.7% vs. 8.4%; aPR = 2.81; 95% CI, 2.73 to 2.89), emotional (33.3% vs. 19.4%; aPR = 1.76; 95% CI, 1.72 to 1.79), and physical trauma (24.2% vs. 14.8%; aPR = 1.68; 95% CI, 1.65 to 1.72). Factors most prominently associated with lifetime trauma were witnessing parental substance use (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 8.68; 95% CI, 8.39 to 8.99), female sex (aOR = 2.29; 95% CI, 2.23 to 2.35), and number of recent stressful life events (aOR = 1.62; 95% CI, 1.59 to 1.65).

Conclusions — These results suggest that trauma-informed approaches are essential to consider in the design and delivery of inpatient psychiatric services for both women and men.



Gatov E, Koziel N, Kurdyak P, Saunders NR, Chiu M, Lebenbaum M, Chen S, Vigod SN. Can J Psychiatry. 2020; 65(2):124-35. Epub 2019 Jul 1.

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