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To identify early life factors associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), we investigated the association between childhood trauma and mental disorders with International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-diagnosed past-year PTSD in employed military and civilian men. Data were derived from the 2010 Australian Defence Force (ADF) Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study (N = 1,356) and the 2007 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing Study (N = 2,120) and analyzed using logistic regression and generalized structural equation modeling. After controlling for demographics, PTSD was associated with childhood anxiety, adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 3.94, 95% CI [2.36, 6.58]; and depression, AOR = 7.01, 95% CI [2.98, 16.49], but not alcohol use disorders, in the ADF. In civilians, PTSD was associated with childhood anxiety only, AOR = 7.06, 95% CI [3.50, 14.22]. These associations remained significant after controlling for childhood and adult trauma in both populations and service factors and deployment, combat, or adult trauma in the ADF. In both populations, PTSD was associated with more than three types of childhood trauma: AOR = 2.97, 95% CI [1.53, 5.75] for ADF and AOR = 5.92, 95% CI [3.00, 11.70] for ABS; and childhood interpersonal, but not noninterpersonal, trauma: AOR = 3.08, 95% CI [1.61, 5.90] for ADF and AOR = 6.63, 95% CI [2.74, 16.06] for ABS. The association between childhood trauma and PTSD was fully mediated by childhood disorder in the ADF only. Taking a lifetime perspective, we have identified that the risk of PTSD from childhood trauma and disorder is potentially predictable and, therefore, modifiable.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of traumatic stress

Publication Date





712 - 723


Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies (CTSS), University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.


Humans, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Depression, Alcohol Drinking, Anxiety, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic, Adolescent, Adult, Middle Aged, Child, Military Personnel, Australia, Male, Young Adult