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Publication Detail
Local understandings of PTSD and complex PTSD among health professionals working with adolescents in violent neighbourhoods of São Paulo city, Brazil
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Massazza A, de Almeida JF, Quinlan-Davidson M, da Silva RT, Devakumar D, Peres MFT, Lewis G, Kiss L
  • Publisher:
    Springer Science and Business Media LLC
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    BMC Psychiatry
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
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  • Keywords:
    Adolescents, Brazil, CPTSD, Community violence, Health professionals, ICD-11, PTSD
  • Notes:
    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.
BACKGROUND: Adolescents in low-resource urban settings in Brazil are often exposed to high levels of trauma that can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, preliminary evidence indicates that PTSD tends to be under-reported in Brazilian health services, despite the high prevalence of trauma. Additionally, little is known about the perceived applicability among clinicians of the new ICD-11 diagnosis of complex PTSD (CPTSD), despite its potential relevance for contexts of chronic trauma. The current study investigated local understandings of PTSD and CPTSD among health professionals working with adolescents in violent neighbourhoods of São Paulo city. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 58 health professionals working at both the primary care and specialized mental health levels in two areas of São Paulo city with high levels of community violence. RESULTS: Most participants knew about PTSD, but most did not know about CPTSD. There were mixed views concerning the commonality of PTSD among adolescents exposed to community violence. Many participants reported having no experience working with patients with the PTSD diagnosis. According to some, community violence was normalized by adolescents and health professionals, and did not result in PTSD. Others highlighted how they did not use psychiatric diagnoses in their practice, had critical perspectives towards psychiatric diagnoses and/or PTSD, or simply knew little about PTSD. Furthermore, many highlighted how the chronic nature of multiple traumas experienced by adolescents often resulted in complex clinical presentations characterised by many symptoms beyond PTSD. The diagnosis of CPTSD was considered appropriate to the context by many participants as it captured the complex traumatic histories and symptom presentations of adolescents exposed to community violence in Brazil. CONCLUSIONS: These findings have important implications for the assessment and treatment of mental health among adolescents exposed to community violence in Brazil.
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