Recognizing the hurt: Prevalence and correlates of elevated PTSD symptoms among adolescents receiving mental/behavioral health services in primary care.

Youth are commonly exposed to potentially traumatic events (PTEs). Following exposure, approximately 25% develop persistent mental and behavioral health (M/BH) symptoms, yet many go untreated or are misdiagnosed and suffer adverse outcomes. Primary care is an ideal setting for detection of trauma-related symptoms. The current article uses archival data to (1) examine the prevalence of posttraumatic stress symptoms that are unlikely, possible, and likely to meet diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the M/BH and physical health concerns that co-occur with PTSD symptoms among adolescents (n = 133, mean age = 15.1 years, 67% female, 60% White) referred for brief, integrated M/BH services within primary care and (2) identify the prevalence of referred adolescents with elevated symptoms of PTSD that would not be identified for services by traditional depression screening. M/BH providers assessed referred patients for PTSD, M/BH, and physical health symptoms as a routine part of services. Fifty-eight percent screened positive for PTSD (PTSD-possible or PTSD-likely range). The subset of adolescents in the PTSD-likely range (29%) reported significantly greater stress, depression, anxiety, anger, and externalizing symptoms than those categorized as PTSD-possible or PTSD-unlikely. Adolescents in the PTSD-possible or PTSD-unlikely ranges did not differ on any M/BH variables; PTSD groups’ physical health did not differ. Of note, 15% of adolescents reporting symptoms likely to meet PTSD criteria did not report elevated depressive symptoms and would have been overlooked by depression screening alone. Given the prevalence of PTEs among M/BH patients, trauma-informed care is necessary for quality patient care. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)