Posttraumatic stress and aggression among veterans in long-term care

Eve B. Carlson, Sean Lauderdale, James Hawkins, Javaid Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


Because stresses associated with long-term care settings may exacerbate distress and aggression related to past trauma, we investigated self-report and staff reports of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and staff observations of verbal and physical aggression in 32 elderly males who were patients in a long-term care unit for veterans. Feelings of anger and irritability were reported by 47% of patients; levels of anger and irritability were significantly correlated with observed aggressive behaviors (r = 0.43, P <.02); and observed aggressive behaviors were significantly more frequent among those reporting past traumatic stressors (t = 2.84, P <.008). Patient-reported posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms were significantly correlated with the frequency of past traumatic stressors (r = 0.48, P <.006). Observer-reported posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and patient reports of anger were strongly correlated (r = 0.73, P <.001). No patient or staff reports were related to level of cognitive function. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that posttraumatic symptoms can contribute to aggressive behaviors in elderly, medically ill, and cognitively impaired patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-71
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes



  • Aggression
  • Elderly
  • Long-term care
  • Posttraumatic stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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