The physical health consequences of PTSD and PTSD symptoms: A meta-analytic review

Maria L. Pacella, Bryce Hruska, Douglas L. Delahanty

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

461 Scopus citations


The present meta-analysis systematically examined associations between physical health and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)/PTSD symptoms (PTSS), as well as moderators of this relationship. Literature searches yielded 62 studies examining the impact of PTSD/PTSS on physical health-related quality of life (HR-QOL), general health symptoms, general medical conditions, musculoskeletal pain, cardio-respiratory (CR) symptoms, and gastrointestinal (GI) health. Sample-specific and methodological moderators were also examined. Results revealed significantly greater general health symptoms, general medical conditions, and poorer HR-QOL for PTSD and high PTSS individuals. PTSD/PTSS was also associated with greater frequency and severity of pain, CR, and GI complaints. Results of moderation analyses were mixed. However, consistent relationships emerged regarding PTSD assessment method, such that effect sizes were largest for self-reported PTSD/PTSS and all but one health outcome. Results highlight the need for prospective longitudinal examination of physical health shortly following trauma, and suggest variables to consider in the design of such studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-46
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Medical conditions
  • Meta-analysis
  • Pain
  • Physical health
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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