PTSD's risky behavior criterion: Associated risky and unhealthy behaviors and psychiatric correlates in a nationally representative sample

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Criterion E2 (“reckless or self-destructive behavior”) was added to the DSM-5 posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) criteria to reflect the established association between PTSD and risky and unhealthy behaviors (RUBs); however, previous research has questioned its clinical significance. To determine whether criterion E2 adequately captures reckless/self-destructive behavior, we examined the prevalence and associations of RUBs (e.g., substance misuse, risky sexual behaviors) with criterion E2 endorsement. Further, we examined associations between criterion E2 and psychiatric conditions (e.g., depressive disorders, anxiety disorders) in a population-based sample of trauma-exposed adults. We analyzed data from the 2012–2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (N = 36,309). The Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule-5 assessed lifetime DSM-5 psychiatric conditions and self-reported RUBs. Among trauma-exposed adults (n = 23,936), multiple logistic regressions examined criterion E2′s associations with RUBs and psychiatric conditions. After adjusting for covariates, all RUBs were associated with E2 endorsement (AOR range: 1.58–3.97; most prevalent RUB among those who endorsed E2: greater substance use than intended [57.0 %]) except binge eating, and E2 endorsement was associated with increased odds of PTSD, bipolar disorder, substance use disorders, and schizotypal, borderline, and antisocial personality disorders (AOR range: 1.65–2.75), and decreased odds of major depressive disorder (AOR = 0.76). Results support the clinical significance of criterion E2 through identifying associated RUBs and distinct correlates. These results may inform screening and intervention strategies for at-risk populations.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Anxiety Disorders