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Medical illness burden is associated with greater PTSD service utilization in a nationally representative survey.

Sripada RK, Pfeiffer PN, Valenstein M, Bohnert KM. Medical illness burden is associated with greater PTSD service utilization in a nationally representative survey. General hospital psychiatry. 2014 Nov 1; 36(6):589-93.

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OBJECTIVE: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with higher rates of many medical conditions and higher use of medical health care services. Growing evidence suggests that comorbid medical illness in PTSD may in turn be associated with greater use of mental health treatment. However, no study to date has examined the impact of cumulative medical illness burden on PTSD service utilization. METHOD: Data come from the second wave of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. PTSD was assessed via structured interview, and cumulative medical illness burden was assessed via a survey of medical conditions. Logistic regression modeling examined associations between cumulative medical illness burden and odds of receiving PTSD treatment. RESULTS: In the final sample of 1599 individuals with current PTSD, controlling for demographic characteristics, insurance status, psychiatric comorbidity and PTSD symptom count, higher levels of past-year medical illness were associated with increased odds of receiving past-year treatment for PTSD (odds ratio = 1.10, 95% confidence interval = 1.01-1.20, P = .029). CONCLUSIONS: Greater levels of medical illness are associated with increased odds of PTSD service utilization. Greater medical comorbidity may increase the need for PTSD care by exacerbating symptoms or increase contact with medical services promoting PTSD detection and treatment.

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