A comparison of PTSD and subthreshold PTSD symptom network structures

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Natalie G. Gay (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Blair Wisco

Abstract: A categorical framework is used in most research and clinical settings to diagnose individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), leaving a subset of individuals who do not endorse the full criteria for PTSD, but who do express functional impairment and distress, under-researched and without therapeutic direction. These individuals are thought to have subthreshold PTSD (subPTSD). Researchers have demonstrated that people with subPTSD experience functional impairment to a similar degree as those with PTSD. However, researchers have not yet investigated how symptom-level associations vary between these diagnostic levels, which is important to understand how the experiences of subPTSD and PTSD are similar and different. The current study uses a statistical tool called network analysis to compare the symptom network structures of subPTSD to the symptom networks of the two diagnostic extremes (i.e., PTSD and trauma-exposed controls), as well as to model a network using the full sample. Centrality indices of strength, closeness, and betweenness were measured to determine which symptoms were most influential in the networks; the Network Comparison Test was used to statistically compare the networks; and tests were run to determine the stability and reliability of the networks. The strength index was reliably estimated for the full sample, and the most central nodes were difficulty concentrating, flashbacks, and physiological reactivity. Of these, physiological reactivity has been found to be a central symptom in the literature most often. All indices of centrality for the PTSD and trauma-exposed control groups were unreliable; even though the strength index of centrality was reliable for subPTSD, the results of this network could not be compared to the others. Although the results of this study did not produce reliable results for the networks of the subsamples, conceptualizing mental illness using the network model has the potential to inspire new hypotheses and lead to advances in our understanding of mental illness.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
Latin America, Network Analysis, Psychopathology, PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder $x Diagnosis
Post-traumatic stress disorder $x Classification
Post-traumatic stress disorder $z Latin America

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