Objective: Traumatic stress can impact behaviours and neurological
functioning of children and youth, with symptoms appearing similar to behaviours
associated with psychiatric diagnoses(Siegfried et al., 2016). This study sought
to examine the link between provisional diagnoses and trauma in a sample of children/youth
receiving mental health services. Methods: A sample of 6649 children/youth
(59% males) aged 4 - 18 years (Mage = 11.99, SD = 3.57) receiving services from 45 mental
health agencies in Ontario were assessed using the interRAI Child and Youth Mental
Health (ChYMH) instrument(Stewart et al., 2015a). We examined the interRAI Traumatic
Life Events Collaborative Action Plan (CAP;Stewart et al., 2015b) and provisional
diagnoses of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders,
reactive attachment disorder (RAD), mood disorders, substance-related disorders,
and sleep disorders. Results: Compared to boys, girls were more likely to
trigger the interRAI Traumatic Life Events CAP and to have a provisional diagnosis
of anxiety, mood, and sleep disorders. Boys were more likely to have a provisional
diagnosis of ADHD than girls. Multiple logistic regression analyses indicated that
boys diagnosed with substance-related disorders had 1.79 higher odds of triggering
the interRAI Traumatic Life Events CAP. ADHD, anxiety disorders, RAD, and mood disorders
were also each significant predictors of potential traumatic stress regardless of
sex. Conclusions/Implications: Findings suggest that several provisional
diagnoses were significantly related to potential traumatic stress. Clinicians may
find value in assessing for trauma, asking the question “What happened?” when confirming
a psychiatric diagnosis in order to determine the best plan of care.
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