Did the DSM-5 Improve the Traumatic Stressor Criterion? Association of DSM-IV and DSM-5 Criterion A with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms

Sadie E. Larsen, Howard Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: A recent meta-analysis found that DSM-III- and DSM-IV-defined traumas were associated with only slightly higher posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms than nontraumatic stressors. The current study is the first to examine whether DSM-5-defined traumas were associated with higher levels of PTSD than DSM-IV-defined traumas. Further, we examined theoretically relevant event characteristics to determine whether characteristics other than those outlined in the DSM could predict PTSD symptoms. Method: One hundred six women who had experienced a trauma or significant stressor completed questionnaires assessing PTSD, depression, impairment, and event characteristics. Events were rated for whether they qualified as DSM-IV and DSM-5 trauma. Results: There were no significant differences between DSM-IV-defined traumas and stressors. For DSM-5, effect sizes were slightly larger but still nonsignificant (except for significantly higher hyperarousal following traumas vs. stressors). Self-reported fear for one's life significantly predicted PTSD symptoms. Conclusions: Our results indicate that the current DSM-5 definition of trauma, although a slight improvement from DSM-IV, is not highly predictive of who develops PTSD symptoms. Our study also indicates the importance of individual perception of life threat in the prediction of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-378
Number of pages6
JournalPsychopathology
Volume50
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • Criterion A
  • DSM
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Stressors
  • Traumatic events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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