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      Mental health problems due to community violence exposure in a small urban setting

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          Objective: Studies conducted in large metropolitan inner-city communities with high violent crime rates have demonstrated an association between exposure to violence and mental health problems; therefore the purpose of this study was to determine if similar trends exist in smaller inner-city communities with substantially lower violent crime rates.

          Methods: One hundred twenty-six children and young adults living in inner-city Omaha, Nebraska, were screened for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety symptoms and assessed for community violence exposure (CVE). Pearson’s correlation and analysis of variance were used to determine the relationship between PTSD, depression, and anxiety symptoms and CVE.

          Results: A statistically significant relationship was found between CVE and PTSD and anxiety symptoms among participants despite their having lower rates of exposure to violent events in comparison with other studies. No association was found between violence and depression symptoms. Additionally, the presence of anxiety and depression, as well as increased age of participants, was associated with higher rates of PTSD symptoms.

          Conclusion: We recommend that health care providers in smaller cities, where the effects of violent crime may be underestimated or overlooked, be informed of the existence of this public health problem within their community and that they screen at-risk patients for mental health problems.

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          Most cited references 43

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          The role of exposure to community violence and developmental problems among inner-city youth

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            Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age: a longitudinal study.

            There is increasing interest in discovering mechanisms that mediate the effects of childhood stress on late-life disease morbidity and mortality. Previous studies have suggested one potential mechanism linking stress to cellular aging, disease and mortality in humans: telomere erosion. We examined telomere erosion in relation to children's exposure to violence, a salient early-life stressor, which has known long-term consequences for well-being and is a major public-health and social-welfare problem. In the first prospective-longitudinal study with repeated telomere measurements in children while they experienced stress, we tested the hypothesis that childhood violence exposure would accelerate telomere erosion from age 5 to age 10 years. Violence was assessed as exposure to maternal domestic violence, frequent bullying victimization and physical maltreatment by an adult. Participants were 236 children (49% females; 42% with one or more violence exposures) recruited from the Environmental-Risk Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally representative 1994-1995 birth cohort. Each child's mean relative telomere length was measured simultaneously in baseline and follow-up DNA samples, using the quantitative PCR method for T/S ratio (the ratio of telomere repeat copy numbers to single-copy gene numbers). Compared with their counterparts, the children who experienced two or more kinds of violence exposure showed significantly more telomere erosion between age-5 baseline and age-10 follow-up measurements, even after adjusting for sex, socioeconomic status and body mass index (B=-0.052, s.e.=0.021, P=0.015). This finding provides support for a mechanism linking cumulative childhood stress to telomere maintenance, observed already at a young age, with potential impact for life-long health.
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              Validating the primary care posttraumatic stress disorder screen and the posttraumatic stress disorder checklist with soldiers returning from combat.

              The purpose of the research was to assess the diagnostic efficiency of the Primary Care Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Screen (PC-PTSD) and the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL) as clinical screening tools for active duty soldiers recently returned from a combat deployment. A secondary goal was to examine the item-level characteristics of both the PC-PTSD and the PCL. A validation study conducted with a sample of 352 service members showed that both the PC-PTSD and PCL had good diagnostic efficiency. The overall diagnostic efficiency assessed by the area under the curve (AUC) was virtually the same for both the PC-PTSD and PCL. The most efficient cutoff values for the PC-PTSD were either 2 or 3 "yes" responses with the latter favoring specificity. For the PCL, the most efficient cutoff values were between 30 and 34, mirroring recommended PCL cutoff values from some studies in primary care settings. The examination of item characteristics suggested a 4-item PCL with an AUC virtually identical to that of the full PCL. Item analyses also identified that the most discriminate item in both scales pertained to symptoms of avoidance. Implications and limitations are discussed. PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Family Medicine and Community Health
                Compuscript (Ireland )
                October 2017
                October 2017
                : 5
                : 3
                : 170-178
                1Case Western University, School of Medicine, 2109 Adelbert Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
                2UNMC Dept. of Family Medicine, 983075 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-3075, USA
                3UNMC College of Medicine, 985520 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-5520, USA
                4Creighton University, School of Law, 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68178, USA
                5UNMC College of Public Health, 984355 Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-4355, USA
                Author notes
                CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Faraz Ahmad, MD Case Western University, School of Medicine, 2109 Adelbert Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA, Tel.: +1-402-3215424, E-mail: fxa117@ 123456case.edu
                Copyright © 2017 Family Medicine and Community Health

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License (CC BY-NC 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

                Self URI (journal page): http://fmch-journal.org/
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