Immigrant minority groups had higher rates of PTSD than both Canada-born minorities and white immigrants. Socioeconomic status, health, and nutrition also played a role according to a study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

The researchers used data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), which includes Canadians age 45-85. A random selection of participants were invited to participate. More than 30,000 adults participated. Researchers assessed PTSD, ethnicity, immigration status, demographic information, health status, and nutrition information.

PTSD prevalence among minority immigrants (7.5%) was more than double that of white immigrants (3.6%, p < 0.001), and about 50% higher than Canada-born whites (5.6%, p = 0.008). Prevalence did not differ significantly between immigrant and Canada-born minority members (4.9%, p = 0.19). Researchers attribute this to the small sample size of the latter.

Looking at demographic and socioeconomic variables, adults age 45-55, those who earned less than C$100,000 per year, and those who were widowed, divorced, or separated had higher odds of PTSD. Participants who reported at least 2 health conditions, who had chronic pain, who smoked, and who had a low waist-to-height ratio had higher odds of PTSD.


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Adults who consumed fiber-rich foods less than 3 times a day had lower rates of PTSD than adults who consumed only 1 source of fiber. Adults who ate a lot of pastries and chocolate also had higher rates of PTSD than their non-sweets-eating counterparts.

The study was limited by a sample size restricted to those aged 55 and over and cross-sectional data. Information about traumatic experiences which may have caused PTSD was not available.

“This investigation provides important insights for policy and program development to mitigate PTSD among mid-age and older adults, particularly for marginalized groups such as visible minority immigrants,” the researchers concluded. “Future investigations that use estimate models such as these as well as longitudinal analyses may better inform mental health practice and policies to both prevent and treat PTSD.”

Reference

Davison KM, Hyland CE, West ML, et al. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in mid-age and older adults differs by immigrant status and ethnicity, nutrition, and other determinants of health in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. Published online February 3, 2021. doi:10.1007/s00127-020-02003-7