Comparing the Stability of Diagnosis in Full vs. Partial Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

VA Medical Center, White River Junction, VT 05009, USA.
The Journal of nervous and mental disease (Impact Factor: 1.69). 06/2012; 200(6):520-5. DOI: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318257c6da
Source: PubMed


We studied differences in diagnostic stability between patients with full and patients with partial posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We collected self-reported symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, depression, and functioning at a Veterans Affairs mental health clinic (n = 1962). We classified patients as meeting full or partial PTSD based upon their initial assessment. We performed Kaplan-Meier survival analysis to compare stability of diagnosis over time and Cox proportional hazards models to understand how comorbid symptoms and level of functioning confounded the relationship. We performed a chart review to examine differences in treatment received by the two groups. Patients in the partial PTSD group lost their diagnosis significantly faster and at significantly higher rates than did patients with full PTSD. Comorbid symptoms contributed significantly to this difference. Mental health treatments delivered to the two groups were similar. These diagnoses appear to be different, suggesting that people with partial PTSD may benefit from a different clinical approach.

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    • "Though subthreshold PTSD is consistently linked with significant impairment, its trajectory and stability over time is less clear. Some evidence suggests that subthreshold PTSD remits at a higher rate than full PTSD following trauma exposure (Blanchard et al., 1997) and that individuals with subthreshold PTSD are more likely to improve at a higher and faster rate than individuals with full PTSD (Shiner et al., 2012). It is difficult to make causal statements surrounding the course of subthreshold PTSD and the extent to which it may remit on its own, however, as neither of the above studies experimentally manipulated or examined potential effects of treatment on symptom remission. "
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    ABSTRACT: Subthreshold posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with impairment and has a prevalence rate comparable to full PTSD. Yet, little is known regarding treatment preferences among individuals with subthreshold PTSD, even though they seek trauma-related treatment at a similar rate to those with full PTSD. This study explored subthreshold diagnostic PTSD diagnostic category and treatment preference in undergraduate (N = 439) and trauma-exposed community (N = 203) samples. Participants completed the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS), viewed standardized treatment rationales, and made a hypothetical PTSD treatment choice: prolonged exposure (PE), sertraline, combination treatment, or no treatment. The PDS was used to categorize individuals into four PTSD categories: no trauma exposure, trauma exposure only, subthreshold PTSD, and full PTSD. Within the samples, 8.9% (n = 39) of undergraduates and 16.7% (n = 34) of community members met subthreshold PTSD criteria. The majority of individuals with subthreshold PTSD in each sample reported impairment, 59.0% of undergraduates and 76.5% of community members. Within subthreshold PTSD groups, the most commonly selected treatments were PE (61.5%) for undergraduates and combination treatment (47.1%) for community members. Findings underscore the necessity of further examining subthreshold PTSD, which may hold important clinical implications for treatment processes and outcomes.
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    ABSTRACT: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a significant health concern for U.S. military service members (SMs) returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Early intervention to prevent chronic disability requires greater understanding of subthreshold PTSD symptoms, which are associated with impaired physical health, mental health, and risk for delayed onset PTSD. We report a comparison of physiologic responses for recently deployed SMs with high and low subthreshold PTSD symptoms, respectively, to a fear conditioning task and novel virtual reality paradigm (Virtual Iraq). The high symptom group demonstrated elevated heart rate (HR) response during fear conditioning. Virtual reality sequences evoked significant HR responses which predicted variance of the PTSD Checklist-Military Version self-report. Our results support the value of physiologic assessment during fear conditioning and combat-related virtual reality exposure as complementary tools in detecting subthreshold PTSD symptoms in Veterans.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Studies in health technology and informatics
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