Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 149–157

A person-centred approach to modelling population experiences of trauma and mental illness


    • Nottingham Trent University
  • Mark Shevlin
    • University of Ulster
  • Gary Adamson
    • University of Ulster
  • Jamie Murphy
    • Nottingham Trent University
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-009-0176-4

Cite this article as:
Houston, J.E., Shevlin, M., Adamson, G. et al. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2011) 46: 149. doi:10.1007/s00127-009-0176-4



Exposure to traumatic events has been implicated in the onset and development of a range of psychiatric disorders. People can be exposed to multiple traumatic events and previous research suggests that traumatic experiences may cluster at the individual level.


This study aimed to examine the distribution of traumatic experiences in a large nationally representative sample using latent class analysis, and estimate the relationship between these classes and a number of demographic and clinical variables. Data from the National Comorbidity Survey was used.


Four latent classes, each representative of a range of traumatic experiences were identified. The classes were labelled ‘high risk’ (class 1), ‘exposure to non-sexual adult interpersonal/non-interpersonal trauma’ (class 2), ‘intermediate risk/sexual abuse’ (class 3), and ‘low risk’ (class 4). Each of the latent classes was predicted by several of the demographic variables. In addition, membership of classes 1, 2, and 3 increased the risk of each of the clinical variables.


The findings have clinical implications for the assessment of trauma histories across a range of psychiatric diagnoses.


TraumaLatent class analysisMental illness

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010