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Development of a Composite Trauma Exposure Risk Index


The high burden of exposure to chronic life adversities and trauma is quite prevalent, but assessment of this risk burden is uncommon in primary care settings. This calls for a brief, multiple dimensional mental health risk screening tool in primary care settings. We aimed to develop such a screening tool named the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Life Adversities Screener (LADS). Using pooled data across 4 studies from the UCLA Center for Culture, Trauma, and Mental Health Disparities, 5 domains of mental health risk including perceived discrimination, sexual abuse histories, family adversity, intimate partner violence, and trauma histories, were identified. Regression models for depression (Centers for Epidemiology Studies Depression Scale) and posttraumatic stress disorder (Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale), controlling for demographic factors, were fitted to develop a weighted continuous scale score for the UCLA LADS. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the 5-domain structure, while item response theory endorsed the inclusion of each item. Receiver operating characteristic analysis indicated that the score was predictive for classifying subjects as reaching clinical threshold criteria for either depression (Beck Depression Inventory-II ≥ 14 or Patient Health Questionnaire-9 ≥ 10) or anxiety (Patient Health Questionnaire-13 ≥10). An optimal cut of 0.33 is suggested based on maximizing sensitivity and specificity of the LADS score, identifying patients at high risk for mental health problems. Given its predictive utility and ease of administration, the UCLA LADS could be useful as a screener to identify racial minority individuals in primary care settings who have a high trauma burden, needing more extensive evaluation.

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