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Comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with poorer outcomes of other disorders, but is treatable.
To estimate the frequency of clinically undetected PTSD in secondary care.
A systematic review of studies that screened for PTSD and reported on PTSD documentation in clinical records. Frequency of undetected PTSD was estimated, and reasons for heterogeneity explored.
The median proportion of participants with undetected PTSD (29 studies) was 28.6% (interquartile range 18.2–38.6%). There was substantial heterogeneity, with studies conducted in the USA and those with the highest proportions of in-patients and patients with psychotic disorder reporting higher frequencies of undetected PTSD.
Undetected PTSD is common in secondary care, even if the true value is at the lower limit of the estimates reported here. Trials examining the impact of routine screening for PTSD are required to determine whether such programmes should be standard procedure for all mental health services.
Declaration of interest
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