The aims were to assess the association between lifetime traumatic events and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and satisfaction with life stratified by gender among a community-dwelling sample of older adults.
Data used came from the ESA-Services study (2011–2013) and included a large convenience sample of 1811 older adults. Traumatic events were measured using a list of 14 events. PTSS was measured using the Impact of Event Scale-Revised. HRQOL and life satisfaction were measured with the EQ-5D-3L and the Satisfaction With Life Scale. Multivariate regression analyses were used to assess the association between traumatic events, PTSS, and quality of life.
Respondents had a mean age of 73.90 years (SD: 6.13, range 65–97). Our results showed that exposure to violence (OR 4.88, CI 2.72–8.77), an accident (OR 2.33, CI 1.29–4.22), and sexual abuse (OR 2.26 CI 1.17–4.37) was associated with PTSS only in women. No traumatic event was associated only in men. The interaction between gender and exposure to violence and life-threatening disease of a close one was significant. Experiencing violence (β = −0.04, p < 0.01), a natural disaster (β = −0.04, p = 0.02), a life-threatening disease (β = −0.04, p < 0.01), and sexual abuse (β = −0.04, p < 0.01) were associated with a lower HRQOL only in women. No traumatic event was associated in men. Interactions between event and gender were significant for natural disaster, life-threatening disease of a close one, sexual abuse, and other type of traumatic events. A life-threatening disease (β = −0.90, p < 0.01) was associated with a reduced life satisfaction only in men and the exposure of violence (β = −1.18, p < 0.01) was associated with lower life satisfaction in women.
Our study could help healthcare professionals to identify and monitor traumatic events that are at higher risk to be associated with PTSS and a lower quality of life for older men and women.