Background: Epidemiological studies have consistently reported rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in women that are twice that of men. In men and women, PTSD has been associated with comorbid medical conditions, medical symptoms and lower self-rating of health. In low-income urban women, rates of PTSD are even more elevated than in suburban women and may be related to observed health disparities. Methods: In this study, 250 women seeking healthcare at an urban clinic were interviewed for a PTSD diagnosis, major depressive disorder (MDD), the experience of traumatic events, the experience of current and past common medical conditions and symptoms, and subjective rating of health. A chart review was used to assess healthcare use in the past year. Results: More current (5.2 vs. 3.8, p < 0.05) and past medical conditions (4.6 vs. 3.3, p < 0.05) were reported by women with a lifetime history of PTSD than by women without this history, after controlling for demographics and current depression. Women with lifetime PTSD also had more annual clinic appointments (5.9 vs. 3.8 p < 0.03) and were 2.4 times (p < 0.05) more likely to report lower appraisal of their physical health. Conclusions: These findings suggest that urban health-seeking women with PTSD experience health impairments that may cause increased morbidity and that healthcare providers should consider the health ramifications of PTSD when providing medical care to women.
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