Trauma Exposure and Externalizing Disorders in Adolescents: Results From the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement

Citation:

Carliner, H., Gary, D., McLaughlin, K. A., & Keyes, K. M. (2017). Trauma Exposure and Externalizing Disorders in Adolescents: Results From the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry , 56 (9), 755–764.e3.
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Date Published:

sep

Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: Exposure to violence and other forms of potentially traumatic events (PTEs) are common among youths with externalizing psychopathology. These associations likely reflect both heightened risk for the onset of externalizing problems in youth exposed to PTEs and elevated risk for experiencing PTEs among youth with externalizing disorders. In this study, we disaggregate the associations between exposure to PTEs and externalizing disorder onset in a population-representative sample of adolescents. METHOD: We analyzed data from 13- to 18-year-old participants in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A) (N = 6,379). Weighted survival models estimated hazard ratios (HRs) for onset of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), and substance use disorders (SUDs) associated with PTEs, and for exposure to PTEs associated with prior-onset externalizing disorders. Multiplicative interaction terms tested for effect modification by sex, race/ethnicity, and household income. RESULTS: All types of PTEs were associated with higher risk for SUD (HRs = 1.29-2.21), whereas only interpersonal violence (HR = 2.49) was associated with onset of CD and only among females. No associations were observed for ODD. Conversely, ODD and CD were associated with elevated risk for later exposure to interpersonal violence and other/nondisclosed events (HRs = 1.45-1.75). CONCLUSION: Externalizing disorders that typically begin in adolescence, including SUDs and CD, are more likely to emerge in adolescents with prior trauma. ODD onset, in contrast, is unrelated to trauma exposure but is associated with elevated risk of experiencing trauma later in development. CD and interpersonal violence exposure exhibit reciprocal associations. These findings have implications for interventions targeting externalizing and trauma-related psychopathology.

Last updated on 09/06/2018