PTSD networks of veterans with combat versus non-combat types of index trauma.

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Journal of Affective Disorders


Background: Network analysis has become popular among PTSD researchers for studying causal structure or interrelationships among symptoms. However, some have noted that results do not seem to be consistent across studies. Preliminary evidence suggests that trauma type may be one source of variability.Methods: The current study sought to examine the PTSD networks of veterans with combat versus non-combat index trauma. Participants included 944 veterans who completed the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 at intake at two VA PTSD clinics.Results: There were many similarities between the combat and non-combat trauma networks, including strong edges between symptoms that were theoretically related or similar (e.g., avoidance) and negative emotion being a highly central symptom. However, correlations of edge weights (0.509) and node centrality (0.418) across networks suggested moderate correspondence, and there appeared to be some differences associated with certain symptoms. Detachment was relatively more central and the connections of negative emotion with blame and lack of positive emotion with reckless behavior were stronger for veterans with combat-related index trauma.Limitations: The data were cross-sectional, which limits the ability to infer directional relationships between symptoms. In addition, the sample was likely not large enough to directly test for differences between networks via network comparison tests.Conclusions: Although there were many similarities, results also suggested some variability in PTSD networks associated with combat versus non-combat index trauma that could have implications for conceptualizing and treating PTSD among veterans.

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