Identifying crime victims who are at high risk for post traumatic stress disorder: developing a practical referral instrument

Authors


Dr Tamar Wohlfarth Gerrit vd Veenstraat 84/huis, 1077 EL Amsterdam, The Netherlands E-mail: t.wohlfarth@planet.nl

Abstract

Objective To construct a practical instrument for the identification and referral of crime victims who are at high risk for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Method: Crime victims filing a complaint at a police station were asked to fill out a questionnaire probing risk factors for PTSD (n=126). One and 3 months later, these victims filled out a self-report version of the PTSD Symptom Scale (PSS-SR).

Results: The combination of four items predicted persistent PTSD with a sensitivity of 1.00 and a specificity of 0.62. The items were: being victims of a violent crime, knowing the perpetrator, experiencing the results of the crime as worse than was expected, and blaming oneself for the event. Only 25% of PTSD cases received emotional support from a victim assistance organization.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that early detection of high-risk victims and their referral to treatment is both necessary and possible.

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