- Dixon, A., Howie, P. and Starling, J. (2005) Trauma exposure,
posttraumatic stress, and psychiatric comorbidity in female
juvenile offenders. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry,
Objective: To document the rate of posttraumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) in female juvenile offenders and its relationship
to trauma history, comorbid diagnoses, attributional style,
and family functioning.
Method: The psychological profiles and trauma histories
of 100 incarcerated female juvenile offenders (ages 13.5-19
years) were assessed using a semistructured interview.
Two self-report measures were used to assess family functioning
and attributional style.
Results: High rates of PTSD were reported by offenders
(37%), with sexual abuse the precipitant in 70% of cases.
Offenders with PTSD had significantly more comorbid diagnoses
than those without (PTSD = 5.4, no PTSD = 3.1, p <
.001). The majority (73%) of comorbid diagnoses appeared
concurrently with or after PTSD onset. The presence of
four or more psychiatric diagnoses (OR = 14.48, p <
.001) and a history of sexual abuse (OR = 7.91, p <
.001) were independently associated with a diagnosis of
PTSD among female juvenile offenders.
Conclusions: These results suggest a link among trauma,
PTSD, and the development of further psychopathology in
female juvenile offenders. This link highlights the importance
of comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of this and other
comorbid disorders to ensure the effectiveness of interventions
designed to treat antisocial behavior.