Potentially traumatic events and the risk of six physical health conditions in a population-based sample

Katherine M. Keyes, Katie A. McLaughlin, Ryan T. Demmer, Magdalena Cerdá, Karestan C. Koenen, Monica Uddin, Sandro Galea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Potentially traumatic events (PTEs) are common in the population, yet, the impact of total burden and specific types of PTEs on physical health has not been systematically investigated. Methods Data were drawn from the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study, a community sample of predominately African Americans living in Detroit, Michigan, interviewed in 2008-2009 (N = 1,547) and in 2009-2010 (N = 1,054). Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional hazards models were used. Results Respondents with the highest levels of PTE exposure (8+ events) had an average age of adverse physical health condition diagnosis that was 15 years earlier than respondents with no exposure. There was a monotonic relation between number of PTEs and arthritis risk. Compared to those who reported no lifetime events, respondents with 1-2, 3-4, 5-7, and 8+ traumatic events had 1.06, 1.12, 1.73, and 2.44 times the hazard of arthritis. Assaultive violence (HR = 1.7; 95% CI 1.2-2.3) and other threats to physical integrity (HR = 1.5, 95% CI 1.1-2.1) were particularly strong risk factors for arthritis. Conclusions These results provide novel evidence linking PTEs, particularly those involving violence and threat to life, to elevated risk for arthritic conditions. Efforts to prevent or mitigate traumatic event exposures may have a broad range of benefits for health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-460
Number of pages10
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • African Americans
  • arthritis
  • chronic disease
  • physical health
  • trauma
  • traumatic events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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