Pervasive exposure to violence and posttraumatic stress disorder in a predominantly African American Urban Community: the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study
Exposure to traumatic events is common, particularly among economically disadvantaged, urban African Americans. There is, however, scant data on the psychological consequences of exposure to traumatic events in this group. We assessed experience with traumatic events and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among 1,306 randomly selected, African American residents of Detroit. Lifetime prevalence of exposure to at least 1 traumatic event was 87.2% (assault = 51.0%). African Americans from Detroit have a relatively high burden of PTSD; 17.1% of those who experienced a traumatic event met criteria for probable lifetime PTSD. Assaultive violence is pervasive and is more likely to be associated with subsequent PTSD than other types of events. Further efforts to prevent violence and increase access to mental health treatment could reduce the mental health burden in economically disadvantaged urban areas.