J Trauma Dissociation. 2021 Jan 18:1-18. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2020.1869079. Online ahead of print.
Given the diversity of military veterans and growing evidence of ethnoracial disparities in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within this population, elucidating the role of discrimination-related stress in contributing to these disparities is crucial. We examined the relative impact of discriminatory stress (i.e., due to race/ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or physical appearance) on 6-month changes in PTSD symptom severity among trauma-exposed White (74%), Black (11%) and Hispanic/Latino/a/x (15%) veterans (17% female). PTSD symptoms were measured with the 8-item PTSD Checklist for DSM-5. A measure of the extent to which discrimination has caused stress for the respondent assessed discriminatory stress. Hierarchical regression analyses examined interactions among race/ethnicity, gender and discriminatory stress in predicting six-month changes in PTSD severity. Black and Hispanic/Latino/a/x veterans reported higher baseline PTSD severity and discriminatory stress than White veterans, with some variation by gender. Three-way interactions of race/ethnicity by discriminatory stress by gender were significant, controlling for income, education and age. The relationship between discriminatory stress and increases in PTSD severity was significantly stronger for Black women compared with Black men and did not differ between White men and women. There was also a stronger relationship between discriminatory stress and increases in PTSD severity for Hispanic/Latino/x men as compared to Black men. These findings suggest that discriminatory stress impacts PTSD severity differentially for various ethnoracial/gender groups and highlight the value of applying an intersectional framework that accounts for the synergistic connections among multiple identities to future screening, intervention, and research efforts.