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20-12-2017 | Uitgave 3/2018 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 3/2018

Comorbidity amplifies the effects of post-9/11 posttraumatic stress disorder trajectories on health-related quality of life

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 3/2018
Jiehui Li, Kimberly Caramanica Zweig, Robert M. Brackbill, Mark R. Farfel, James E. Cone
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11136-017-1764-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



The present study aims to examine the impact of physical and mental health comorbidities on the association between post-9/11 posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) trajectories over 10 years and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among 9/11-exposed persons.


30,002 responding adult World Trade Center Health Registry enrollees reporting no pre-9/11 PTSD were studied. PTSD trajectories (chronic, delayed, remitted, no PTSD) were defined based on a 17-item PTSD Checklist-Specific to 9/11 across three waves of survey data. Three indicators of poor HRQOL were defined based on CDC HRQOL-4 measures. We computed age-adjusted prevalence of physical and mental health comorbidity (depression/anxiety) by PTSD trajectory and used modified Poisson regression to assess the effect of PTSD trajectory on poor HRQOL prevalence, accounting for comorbidity.


Age-adjusted prevalence of overall comorbid conditions was 95.8 and 61.4% among the chronic and no-PTSD groups, respectively. Associations between 9/11-related PTSD trajectories and poor HRQOL were significant and became greater when comorbidity was included. Adjusted prevalence ratios were elevated for fair/poor health status (APR 7.3, 95% CI 6.5, 8.2), ≥ 14 unhealthy days (4.7; 95% CI 4.4, 5.1), and ≥ 14 activity limitation days during the last 30 days (9.6; 95% CI 8.1, 11.4) in the chronic PTSD group with physical and mental health comorbidity compared to those without PTSD and comorbidity; similar associations were observed for delayed PTSD.


Ten years post-9/11 physical and mental health comorbidities have a substantial impact on the PTSD trajectories and HRQOL association. The need for early identification and treatment of PTSD and comorbidity should be emphasized to potentially improve HRQOL.

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