Subjective distress from stressful events and high-risk behaviors as predictors of PTSD symptom severity in clients with severe mental illness

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Abstract

Survey data collected from 257 community mental health center clients tested direct and indirect relationships among subjective distress associated with stressful/traumatic events and high-risk behaviors, substance abuse, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Structural equation modeling (SEM) revealed substantial direct effects of subjective distress associated with lifetime physical and sexual abuse on PTSD symptom severity. Subjective distress related to high-risk behaviors (e.g., suicide attempts) mediated subjective distress and PTSD symptom severity. Subjective distress from physical and sexual abuse was also strongly related to problem drinking. Adding gender to the model revealed greater subjective distress from physical and sexual abuse for women and greater drinking problems for men. Otherwise, gender had little effect on the model overall.

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