Severity of posttraumatic stress disorder, type 2 diabetes outcomes and all-cause mortality: A retrospective cohort study

Joanne Salas, Wenjin Wang, Paula P. Schnurr, Beth E. Cohen, Kenneth E. Freedland, Allan S. Jaffe, Patrick J. Lustman, Matthew Friedman, Jeffrey F. Scherrer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Some evidence suggests patients with comorbid PTSD and type 2 diabetes (T2D) have worse T2D outcomes than those with T2D alone. However, there is no evidence regarding PTSD severity and risk for starting insulin, hyperglycemia, microvascular complications, and all-cause mortality. Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, Veterans Health Affairs (VHA) medical record data from fiscal year (FY) 2012 to FY2022 were used to identify eligible patients (n = 23,161) who had a PTSD diagnosis, ≥1 PTSD Checklist score, controlled T2D (HbA1c ≤ 7.5) without microvascular complications at baseline. PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) scores defined mild, moderate, and severe PTSD. Competing risk and survival models estimated the association between PTSD severity and T2D outcomes before and after controlling for confounding. Results: Most (70%) patients were ≥ 50 years of age, 88% were male, 64.2% were of white race and 17.1% had mild, 67.4% moderate and 15.5% severe PTSD. After control for confounding, as compared to mild PTSD, moderate (HR = 1.05; 95% CI:1.01–1.11) and severe PTSD (HR = 1.15; 95%CI:1.07–1.23) were significantly associated with increased risk for microvascular complication. Hyperarousal was associated with a 42% lower risk of starting insulin. Negative mood was associated with a 16% increased risk for any microvascular complication. Severe PTSD was associated with a lower risk for all-cause mortality (HR = 0.76; 95%CI:0.63–0.91). Conclusions: Patients with comorbid PTSD and T2D have an increased risk for microvascular complications. However, they have lower mortality risk perhaps due to more health care use and earlier chronic disease detection. PTSD screening among patients with T2D may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111510
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Epidemiology
  • Insulin
  • Microvascular
  • PTSD
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Veterans


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