NYMC Faculty Publications

Traumatic Life Events and Development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Among Female Factory Workers in a Developing Country

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The International Journal of Social Psychiatry

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Health Policy and Management


BACKGROUND: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be more prevalent and burdensome in developing countries. AIMS: The goals of this study were to (1) determine the prevalence of PTSD, (2) identify types and number of traumas related to screening positive for PTSD and (3) determine other sociodemographic risk factors and health/medical conditions that may be correlated to PTSD among garment-factory workers and a comparable working population in Bangladesh. METHOD: A survey was administered to a convenient sample of 607 lower socio-economic status (SES) working women in Bangladesh, 310 of who were garment workers. The primary outcome PTSD was measured by the PTSD Checklist. The Life Events Checklist determined the number and type of traumatic events. RESULTS: The prevalence of PTSD was found to be 17.79% - 7.25% in garment workers and 21.55% in the comparison worker group. In multivariate analysis, PTSD was found to be significantly associated with age, income, chronic pain and number of stressful events. Participants between 45-50 years of age had the greatest odds of reporting PTSD - 15.68 fold (95% confidence interval (CI) = 4.08, 60.29) compared with those younger than 24 years. PTSD was more common in those with lower income (2,000-4,000 taka) (odds ratio (OR) = 1.60; 95% CI = 0.79, 3.26), who had chronic pain (OR = 2.48; 95% CI = 1.51, 4.07) and who experienced over three traumatic life events (OR = 11.25; 95% CI = 4.59, 27.59). The mean number of traumatic events experienced by this entire population was 4.9 with PTSD being more likely in those who experienced physical assault (OR = 6.35; 95% CI = 4.07, 9.90), who caused serious harm or death to someone else (OR = 4.80; 95% CI = 1.36, 16.87) and who had exposure to combat or war (OR = 4.76; 95% CI = 1.17, 19.34). CONCLUSION: Undiagnosed and untreated PTSD impacts the quality of life and decrease worker productivity among working-age women in this developing country.