Glossary of terms: A shared understanding of the common terms used to describe psychological trauma

Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT)
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Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a potentially disabling condition that is now a widely recognized public health issue, particularly among public safety personnel (PSP). A recent study conducted by Carleton et al. (2018) investigated the proportion of Canadian PSP reporting symptom clusters consistent with various mental disorders. The results indicated that 23.2% of the total sample screened positive for PTSD (in contrast, estimates of the prevalence of PTSD among the general population range from 1.1 to 3.5%). PTSD and other mental disorders are concerning for all Canadians; nevertheless, the Federal Framework on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Act was introduced to address the “clear need for persons who have served as first responders, firefighters, military personnel, corrections officers and members of the RCMP to receive direct and timely access to PTSD support.” The Act called for the creation of a federal framework on PTSD. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) was mandated to lead the implementation of the Act. Early on, the need for a glossary of terminology around psychological trauma became clear and, in collaboration with PHAC and other partners, the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) led the development of the glossary.