Despite the emphasis placed on childhood trauma in psychiatry, comparatively little is known about the epidemiology of trauma and trauma-related psychopathology in young people. We therefore aimed to evaluate the prevalence, clinical features, and risk factors associated with trauma exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in young people.
We carried out a comprehensive epidemiological study based on participants from the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study, a population-representative birth-cohort of 2232 children born in England and Wales in 1994–95. At the follow-up home visit at age 18 years, participants were assessed with structured interviews for trauma exposure, PTSD, other psychopathology, risk events, functional impairment, and service use.
Risk factors for PTSD were measured prospectively over four previous assessments between age 5 and 12 years. The key outcomes were the prevalence, clinical features, and risk factors associated with trauma exposure and PTSD. We also derived and tested the internal validity of a PTSD risk calculator.