To what extent do post-traumatic mental health and other problems reflect pre-existing problems? : Findings from the prospective comparative population-based VICTIMS-study


Findings from prospective studies question the assumption that mental health problems observed in traumatized adults mainly reflect the effects of potentially traumatic events.



Aim of the present comparative prospective study is to clarify the extent to which victims of potentially traumatic events with mental health, social, financial, and/or legal problems, already suffered from such problems before these events.



Data was extracted from three surveys of the prospective VICTIMS-study (T1 = 2018, T2 = 2019, T3 = 2020), conducted with the population-based longitudinal LISS-panel. Differences between victims (n = 340, victimized by violence, accidents, and serious threats in the 12 months before T3) and nonvictims (n = 3,872, not victimized by such events in this period), were examined using multivariate logistic regression analyses.



The large majority of victims with current (at T3) anxiety and depression symptomatology (74%), general mental health problems (71%), partner/family (67%), financial (76%), and legal problems (58%), and lack of support (79%), already had these problems (at T1 and/or at T2). A similar pattern was observed among nonvictims. Of the victims with current probable PTSD (at T3), 87% already had any mental health problem. At T3, among both groups, the incidence of problems was substantially lower than their prevalence. The large majority of victims with post-event mental health, social, financial, and legal problems already suffered from these problems in the past.



When victims seek help for their problems, professional care providers should be aware that in most cases, as among nonvictims, these problems are chronic/re-current rather than new problems.

Peter G. Van Der Velden, Carlo Contino, Marcel Das, Lutz Wittmann | 2022
In: International Journal of Social Psychiatry : ISSN: 0020-7640 | 69 | 4 | 841-852
Accidents, Adults, Anxiety Symptoms, Caregiving, Depressive Symptoms, Economic Impact, Emotional States, Mental health, Netherlands, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Professionals, Psychiatric Disorders, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Research, Statistical Analysis, Traumatic events, Violence