Evaluating the stability of DSM-5 PTSD symptom network structure in a national sample of U.S. military veterans

Sophia H.H. von Stockert, Eiko I. Fried, Cherie Armour, Robert H. Pietrzak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background
Previous studies have used network models to investigate how PTSD symptoms associate with each other. However, analyses examining the degree to which these networks are stable over time, which are critical to identifying symptoms that may contribute to the chronicity of this disorder, are scarce. In the current study, we evaluated the temporal stability of DSM-5 PTSD symptom networks over a three-year period in a nationally representative sample of trauma-exposed U.S. military veterans.

Methods
Data were analyzed from 611 trauma-exposed U.S. military veterans who participated in the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study (NHRVS). We estimated regularized partial correlation networks of DSM-5 PTSD symptoms at baseline (Time 1) and at three-year follow-up (Time 2), and examined their temporal stability.

Results
Evaluation of the network structure of PTSD symptoms at Time 1 and Time 2 using a formal network comparison indicated that the Time 1 network did not differ significantly from the Time 2 network with regard to network structure (p = 0.12) or global strength (sum of all absolute associations, i.e. connectivity; p = 0.25). Centrality estimates of both networks (r = 0.86) and adjacency matrices (r = 0.69) were highly correlated. In both networks, avoidance, intrusive, and negative cognition and mood symptoms were among the more central nodes.

Limitations
This study is limited by the use of a self-report instrument to assess PTSD symptoms and recruitment of a relatively homogeneous sample of predominantly older, Caucasian veterans.

Conclusion
Results of this study demonstrate the three-year stability of DSM-5 PTSD symptom network structure in a nationally representative sample of trauma-exposed U.S. military veterans. They further suggest that trauma-related avoidance, intrusive, and dysphoric symptoms may contribute to the chronicity of PTSD symptoms in this population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-68
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume229
Early online date27 Dec 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2018

Keywords

  • DSM-5
  • Network structure
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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