Trauma exposure and diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition) posttraumatic stress disorder among Danish adults: Implications of narrow and broad operationalizations of criterion A

Maria Louison Vang, Ask Elklit, Sebastian Simonsen, Stephen Fitzgerald Austin, Stine Bjerrum Møller

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has long been recognized as a debilitating psychiatric disorder. The definition of Criterion A has been a topic of controversy, and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) and International Classification of Diseases, 11th version have opted for a narrow and a broad approach to the gatekeeper criterion, respectively. The aim of this study was to test the implications of a narrow (DSM-5) versus broad (including psychologically threatening events) Criterion A for endorsement of a probable PTSD diagnosis and symptom severity.

METHOD: The study was based on a cross-sectional survey conducted in March 2021 among the general population of adult Danish residents in Denmark, ranging in age between 18 and 79 years (n = 1,033).

RESULTS: Psychologically threatening events did not lead to a statistically significant increase in probable PTSD diagnoses, but psychologically threatening events were independently related to probable PTSD risk and severity. Controlling for other potentially traumatizing events and demographic factors, psychologically threatening events were the strongest risk factor for higher symptom severity. We found probable PTSD rates higher but comparable to other Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Sweden.

CONCLUSION: Exposure to psychologically threatening events is an important factor in explaining probable PTSD risk and severity although not independently leading to a significant increase in probable PTSD rates. Probable rates of DSM-5 PTSD are higher than Danish official estimates in a random sample of the Danish adult population (6.8%-6.9% compared to 1%). The generalizability of study findings is limited by nonrepresentativity, the use of self-report measures, and assessment during the COVID-19 lockdown. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftPsychological trauma : theory, research, practice and policy
ISSN1942-969X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2023

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