The 20 most influential papers on posttraumatic stress

Which papers have shaped your thoughts on traumatic stress and recovery? Which articles do you often refer to? These questions will be the starting point for the next #traumaresearch chat on Twitter in exactly a week (March 28th in the US, 29th in Australia; see your local time).


Meanwhile, I have had a look at which publications have been most influential in terms of citations. For the methods (e.g., I have excluded articles focused on measures), see below. These are the most cited papers, with links to free full-text pdfs or abstracts:

  1. Kessler et al. (1995) Posttraumatic stress disorder in the national comorbidity survey. Archives of General Psychiatry. 3437 citations
  2. Breslau et al. (1991) Traumatic events and posttraumatic stress disorder in an urban population of young adults. Archives of General Psychiatry. 1181 citations
  3. Kendall-Tackett et al. (1993) Impact of sexual abuse on children: A review and synthesis of recent empirical studies. Psychological Bulletin. 981 citations
  4. Ehlers & Clark (2000) A cognitive model of posttraumatic stress disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 978 citations              
  5. Brewin et al. (2000). Meta-analysis of risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder in trauma-exposed adults. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 976 citations
  6. Hoge et al. (2004). Combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, mental health problems, and barriers to care. New England Journal of Medicine 351. 965 citations
  7. Resnick et al. (1993). Prevalence of civilian trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder in a representative national sample of women. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 887 citations
  8. Breslau et al. (1998). Trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder in the community: The 1996 Detroit area survey of trauma. Archives of General Psychiatry. 824 citations
  9. Sapolsky (2000). Glucocorticoids and hippocampal atrophy in neuropsychiatric disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry. 806 citations
  10. Bremner et al. (1995). MRI-based measurement of hippocampal volume in patients with combat- related posttraumatic stress disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry. 798 citations
  11. Ozer et al. (2003). Predictors of posttraumatic stress disorder and symptoms in adults: A meta-analysis Psychological Bulletin. 726 citations
  12. Galea et al. (2002). Psychological sequelae of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. New England Journal of Medicine. 713 citations
  13. Campbell (2002). Health consequences of intimate partner violence. Lancet. 689 citations
  14. McEwen (2000). The neurobiology of stress: From serendipity to clinical relevance. Brain Research. 661 citations
  15. Heim et al. (2000). The potential role of hypocortisolism in the pathophysiology of stress-related bodily disorders. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 627 citations
  16. Nolen-Hoeksema (1991). A Prospective Study of Depression and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms After a Natural Disaster: The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 615 citations
  17. Foa et al. (1991). Treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in rape victims: A comparison between cognitive-behavioral procedures and counseling. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 571 citations
  18. Helzer et al. (1987). Post-traumatic stress disorder in the general population: Findings of the epidemiologic catchment area survey. New England Journal of Medicine. 564 citations.
  19. Bremner et al. (1997). Magnetic resonance imaging-based measurement of hippocampal volume in posttraumatic stress disorder related to childhood physical and sexual abuse – A preliminary report. Biological Psychiatry. 549 citations
  20. Rauch et al. (1996).  A symptom provocation study of posttraumatic stress disorder using positron emission tomography and script-driven imagery. Archives of General Psychiatry. 534 citations

I knew only about half of this list…so I’ll have to catch up on some reading  A number of articles describe the epidemiology of posttraumatic stress, while others are more theoretical in nature or review a body of literature. For me, I think the second and third types have been more influential than the first. I’ll do a specific search for papers on children and adolescents, and compare them with my personal list next week.

(Method: I did a search in Scopus (“posttraumatic stress” OR “post-traumatic stress” OR “traumatic stress” OR “post-trauma stress” OR “traumatised” OR “traumatized” OR “PTSD” in the title or abstract), had them listed according to number of citations and selected the papers that focused on posttraumatic mental health, excluding articles on instruments.)


4 thoughts on “The 20 most influential papers on posttraumatic stress

  1. This paper is impressive and specific to trauma in indigenous Australians, a needy and important group. Laura M Hart1*, Anthony F Jorm1, Leonard G Kanowski1, Claire M Kelly1 and Robyn L Langlands2 (2009) Mental health first aid for Indigenous Australians: using Delphi consensus studies to develop guidelines for culturally appropriate responses to mental health problems. BMC Psychiatry, 9:47 doi:10.1186/1471-244X-9-47.
    * Corresponding author: Laura M Hart
    Author Affiliations
    1 Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
    2 School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.

  2. That’s a beautiful, impressive book indeed, thank you for sharing! The link to the book on Amazon:

    (I’ll try to ‘transport’/copy your and Kay’s comments to the list regarding most inspiring papers, so many people can see them there as well)

What's your view?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.