A comparison of PTSD symptom patterns in three types of civilian trauma


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is assumed to be an equivalent syndrome regardless of the type of traumatic event that precipitated it. However, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) and previous research suggest that the clinical presentation of PTSD varies by trauma type. This study compared PTSD symptom profiles in three types of civilian trauma: sexual assault (n = 86), motor vehicle accident (n = 162), and sudden loss of a loved one (n = 185). Groups differed in overall PTSD severity and displayed distinct PTSD symptom patterns. Results suggest that different trauma types lead to unique variants of the PTSD syndrome, which may result from different etiological factors and may require different treatment approaches. © 2009 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

Publication Title

Journal of Traumatic Stress