Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Primary Care: A Study of General Practices in England

Sean Cowlishaw, Olivia Metcalf, Caleb Stone, Meaghan O’Donnell, Annett Lotzin, David Forbes, Kelsey Hegarty, David Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be a common issue in primary care in the UK, but there have been no studies of all-cause PTSD in general samples of attenders in this country. The current paper thus explores the extent and distribution of probable PTSD among patients attending general practices in England. Cross-sectional survey data from adult patients (n = 1058) attending 11 general practices in southwest England were analysed. Patients were recruited from waiting rooms and completed anonymous questionnaires, including measures of depression, anxiety and risky alcohol use. Current probable PTSD was measured using the 4-item Primary Care PTSD Scale (PC-PTSD). Results indicated 15.1% of patients that exhibited probable PTSD (PC-PTSD ≥ 3), with higher levels observed in practices from deprived areas. There were 53.8% of patients with probable PTSD that expressed the desire for help with these issues. The analyses suggested that rates were lowest among older adults, and highest among patients who were not in cohabitating relationships or were unemployed. Measures of anxiety and depression were associated with 10-fold and 16-fold increases in risk of probable PTSD, respectively, although there were no discernible associations with risky drinking. Such preliminary findings highlight the need for vigilance for PTSD in routine general practice in the UK, and signal a strong need for additional research and attention in this context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-435
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Cross-sectional study
  • Depression
  • Primary care
  • PTSD

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