Testing alternative factor models of PTSD and the robustness of the dysphoria factor

Ask Elklit, Cherie Armour, Mark Shevlin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This study first aimed to examine the structure of self-reported posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms using three different samples. The second aim of the paper was to test the robustness of the factor analytic model when depression scores were controlled for. Design: Based on previous factor analytic findings and the DSM-IV formulation, six confirmatory factor models were specified and estimated that reflected different symptom clusters. The best fitting model was subsequently re-fitted to the data after including a depression variable. Methods: The analyses were based on responses from 973 participants across three samples. Sample 1 consisted of 633 parents who were members of 'The National Association of Infant Death' and who had lost a child. Sample 2 consisted of 227 victims of rape, who completed a questionnaire within 4 weeks of the rape. Each respondent had been in contact with the Centre for Rape Victims (CRV) at the Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark. Sample 3 consisted of 113 refugees resident in Denmark. All participants had been referred to a treatment centre which focused on rehabilitating refugees through treatment for psychosocial integration problems (RRCF: Rehabliterings og Revliderings Centre for Flygtninge). In total 500 participants received a diagnosis of PTSD/sub-clinical PTSD (Sample 1, N = 214; 2, N = 176; 3, N = 110). Results: A correlated four-factor model with re-experiencing, avoidance, dysphoria, and arousal factors provided the best fit to the sample data. The average attenuation in the factor loadings was highest for the dysphoria factor (M = -.26, SD = .11) compared to the re-experiencing (M = -.14, SD = .18), avoidance (M = -.10, SD = .21), and arousal (M = -.09, SD = .13) factors. Conclusions: With regards to the best fitting factor model these results concur with previous research findings using different trauma populations but do not reflect the current DSM-IV symptom groupings. The attenuation of dysphoria factor loadings suggests that dysphoria is a non-specific component of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-154
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2010


  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Dysphoria
  • PTSD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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