The purpose of this study was to describe the PTSD symptom presentation (including dissociative symptoms) of PTSD using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition diagnostic criteria and explore associations between the symptom severity for each of the four PTSD symptom clusters and polytrauma, defined as multiple exposures to different categories of potentially traumatic events.
This is a secondary analysis of cross-sectional program evaluation data among 95 young people (aged 11–19) at therapy initiation in a southeastern state in the U.S. We used descriptive statistics and multivariable linear regression to test study objectives.
Eighty-one respondents (90.0%) experienced a potentially traumatic event in ≥ 2 trauma categories, in addition to experiencing CSE/T. Approximately two-thirds of respondents experienced clinically significant PTSD symptoms for each symptom cluster. Of the 31 young people who met full criteria for PTSD, 9 met criteria for the standard PTSD diagnosis, while 22 met criteria for the dissociative subtype of PTSD. On average, experiencing additional trauma categories was associated with substantively higher PTSD symptom cluster scores for each cluster.
These findings support the need for a comprehensive assessment of trauma symptoms that includes cluster-specific PTSD symptoms. They also underscore the need to assess the full breadth and chronicity of trauma experiences to guide treatment planning and delivery, targeting specific domains of trauma impact. These findings can also inform the tailoring and adaptation of evidence-based interventions and strategies to better meet the needs of young people who have experienced CSE/T.