Longitudinal Association Between Self-Esteem in Adolescence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Older Adults: A Cohort Study

John Anthony Blue Star, Brigham Young University - Provo


Background: Posttraumatic-Stress Disorder (PTSD) is less common in older adults than in younger adults, and little is known about specific risk factors for PTSD in older adults. We investigated the association between self-esteem in late adolescence and PTSD in older adults. Method: Using a cohort design, 1,436 individuals who had been assessed approximately 40 years earlier in their junior and senior year of high school with the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) were evaluated for PTSD using the PTSD Checklist (PCL-17). Results: Fully controlled logistic regression models indicated that lower self-esteem in late adolescence predicted PTSD in the overall sample of older adults but not in the veterans-only subgroup. Limitations: The main limitations include self-completed measures to estimate PTSD diagnosis and lack of specific information on traumatic events. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that lower self-esteem from a young age may be a risk factor for PTSD in older age.