How to quantify exposure to traumatic stress? Reliability and predictive validity of measures for cumulative trauma exposure in a post-conflict population

Wilker, Sarah and Pfeiffer, Anett and Kolassa, Stephan and Koslowski, Daniela and Elbert, Thomas and Kolassa, Iris-Tatjana (2015) How to quantify exposure to traumatic stress? Reliability and predictive validity of measures for cumulative trauma exposure in a post-conflict population. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 6 (1). ISSN 2000-8198

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Abstract

Background While studies with survivors of single traumatic experiences highlight individual response variation following trauma, research from conflict regions shows that almost everyone develops posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if trauma exposure reaches extreme levels. Therefore, evaluating the effects of cumulative trauma exposure is of utmost importance in studies investigating risk factors for PTSD. Yet, little research has been devoted to evaluate how this important environmental risk factor can be best quantified. Methods We investigated the retest reliability and predictive validity of different trauma measures in a sample of 227 Ugandan rebel war survivors. Trauma exposure was modeled as the number of traumatic event types experienced or as a score considering traumatic event frequencies. In addition, we investigated whether age at trauma exposure can be reliably measured and improves PTSD risk prediction. Results All trauma measures showed good reliability. While prediction of lifetime PTSD was most accurate from the number of different traumatic event types experienced, inclusion of event frequencies slightly improved the prediction of current PTSD. Conclusions As assessing the number of traumatic events experienced is the least stressful and time-consuming assessment and leads to the best prediction of lifetime PTSD, we recommend this measure for research on PTSD etiology.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
European Journal of Psychotraumatology
ID Code:
134590
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
22 Jun 2019 09:15
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
26 Sep 2020 06:02