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Low recognition of posttraumatic stress disorder in primary care

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Anke Ehlers, Nuri Gene-Cos, Sean Perrin

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalLondon Journal of Primary Care

King's Authors


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common and disabling disorder that develops as a consequence of traumatic events and is characterised by distressing re-experiencing of parts of the trauma, avoidance of reminders, emotional numbing and hyperarousal. The NICE guidelines for PTSD (2005)recommend trauma-focused psychological therapy as the first-line treatment. A survey of 129 GPs in south London investigated the recognition and treatment of PTSD in primary care. The majority of GPs underestimated the prevalence of PTSD. Most PTSD patients seen in GP surgeries currently do not receive or are not referred for NICE recommended psychological treatments. Medications, especially SSRIs, appear to be more commonly prescribed than recommended by NICE. Efforts to disseminate information about PTSD and effective treatments to both patients and GPs are needed to increase recognition rates and prompter access to treatment. The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme will make the NICE recommended treatments more widely available and will allow self-referral by adults with PTSD to trauma-focused psychological therapy.

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