Stress and Health| Volume 28, ISSUE 3, P273-280, May 2018

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Neighborhood Residency and Satisfaction, and Social Network Characteristics among Underserved Women in Baltimore, Maryland

Published:April 23, 2018DOI:



      Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevalence is high, but not well-understood, among women living in urban, impoverished areas. Although previous studies have established social support as an important factor in PTSD development and maintenance, little is known about how perceptions of neighborhood are linked to PTSD. This study examined the relationship between PTSD and social network and neighborhood factors among women with a low socioeconomic status.


      We analyzed cross-sectional data collected from a human immunodeficiency virus/sexually transmitted infection peer network study in Baltimore, Maryland (n = 438). We used bivariate analyses to examine the associations between PTSD and social network characteristics and time in neighborhood and satisfaction. We then constructed multivariable regression models that controlled for the following with PTSD: homelessness, cocaine/heroin use, and unemployment.

      Main Findings

      Overall, 30% of women had PTSD symptom severity consistent with a clinical diagnosis. In the multivariable model, dissatisfaction with neighborhood block (odds ratio [OR], 1.80; p = .03) and living in one's neighborhood for more than 5 years (OR, 1.69; p = .03) were associated with PTSD. Social network factors that were significantly associated with PTSD included a higher number of network members in conflict with the participant (OR, 1.28; p = .02), presence of a network member who would let the participant stay with them (OR, 0.4; p = .004), and the number of network members with whom the participant socialized (OR, 0.6; p = .04).


      In this sample of impoverished urban women with a high prevalence of PTSD, duration of residency, satisfaction with neighborhood, and network characteristics were found to be strongly associated with PTSD symptom severity.
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      Kriti M. Jain, MSPH, PhD, is a social scientist whose work focuses on linkage to human immunodeficiency virus care and treatment, psychological trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social determinants of health.


      Melissa Davey-Rothwell, MPH, PhD, is an Associate Scientist interested in the relationship between social norms and health behaviors. Her research explores networks among populations at risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted infections. She has also developed, tested, and disseminated HIV prevention interventions.


      Norah L. Crossnohere, MHS, is a scientist whose work centers on promoting patient- and community-driven research agendas. She also studies stated preference methods, mental health, and research ethics.


      Carl A. Latkin, MA, PhD, is a professor whose work has advanced human immunodeficiency virus prevention/care among disadvantaged populations, domestic and international analysis approaches to behavior change, and neighborhood factors and health behaviors. His work uses qualitative and quantitative methods, including social networking.