Exposure to Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Symptomatology Among Abortion Clinic Workers

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Abstract

The intent of this study was to examine the relationship between exposure to abortion clinic violence, either as a victim or witness, and the reporting of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among clinic employees. Semi-structured interviews with 71 clinic workers from eight abortion clinics in a Southeastern state were used for analyses. Findings showed that as victims, clinic workers experienced moderate forms of violence and witnessed greater variety and numbers of violent acts. Twenty-one percent of the sampled workers reported symptoms similar to the syndrome described in the DSM-IIIR/DSM-IV classification for PTSD. A multivariate analysis showed that even when controlling for significant life circumstances and stressors outside the clinic setting, witnessing violence was a significant predictor of PTSD symptomatology.

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