We assess whether posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) varies in prevalence, diagnostic criteria endorsement, and type and frequency of traumatic events (PTEs) among a nationally representative U.S. sample of 5071 non-Latino whites, 3264 Latinos, 2178 Asians, 4249 African Americans, and 1476 Afro-Caribbeans.
PTSD and other psychiatric disorders were evaluated using the World Mental Health-Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI) in a national household sample that oversampled ethnic/racial minorities (n=16,238) but was weighted to produce results representative of the general population.
Asians have lower prevalence rates of probable lifetime PTSD while African Americans have higher rates as compared to non-Latino whites, even after adjusting for type and number of exposures to traumatic events, and for sociodemographic, clinical and social support factors. Afro-Caribbeans and Latinos seem to demonstrate similar risk to non-Latino whites, adjusting for these same covariates. Higher rates of probable PTSD exhibited by African Americans and lower rates for Asians, as compared to non-Latino whites, do not appear related to differential symptom endorsement, differences in risk or protective factors or differences in types and frequencies of PTEs across groups.
There appears to be marked differences in conditional risk of probable PTSD across ethnic/racial groups. Questions remain about what explains risk of probable PTSD. Several factors that might account for these differences are discussed as well as the clinical implications of our findings. Uncertainty of the PTSD diagnostic assessment for Latinos and Asians requires further evaluation.