Lifetime trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder in women sentenced to drug court

Carolyn E. Sartor, Vivia V. McCutcheon, Catina Callahan O'Leary, Dorothy J. Van Buren, Jenifer E. Allsworth, Donna B. Jeffe, Linda B. Cottler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The aims of this study were to characterize trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in female drug court participants and test for differences in socioeconomic status and familial status between women with: (i) no trauma exposure, (ii) trauma exposure without PTSD, and (iii) trauma exposure resulting in PTSD. Three hundred and nineteen women were recruited from drug courts. Rates of exposure and likelihood of traumatic events leading to PTSD were examined, sociodemographic characteristics were compared across groups, and a logistic regression analysis was conducted to test for differences in PTSD risk for assaultive vs. non-assaultive events. Twenty percent of participants met PTSD criteria, 71% had trauma exposure without PTSD, and 9% did not endorse any traumatic events. Prostitution and homelessness were more prevalent in women with vs. without a history of trauma, but among trauma-exposed women prevalences did not vary by PTSD status. No differences in risk for PTSD were found between assaultive and non-assaultive events (OR=0.91; 95%CI: 0.48-1.75). Women sentenced to drug court represent a heavily trauma-exposed population, for whom risk for PTSD is not limited to assaultive events. Within this high-risk population, trauma is associated with elevated rates of homelessness and prostitution, even in the absence of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)602-608
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Dec 30 2012


  • Drug court
  • Sexual assault
  • Traumatic event
  • Women


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