Assessment of personal predictive variables and symptom expression in posttraumatic stress disorder.
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Scales assessing personal predictive variables and symptom expression in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are numerous and varied. No consensus has been reached on an exclusive set of personal variables associated with PTSD development, more than one scale may be available to assess a particular variable and twenty to thirty scales are in common use for assessing PTSD symptoms. While many studies have identified one or two predictive factors and used a single scale for assessing each factor, no study has looked at all of the various factors and compared multiple scales used to assess them in a single population. A beginning researcher or clinician would have difficulty knowing where to start with scale selection and experienced investigators may select tests based only on word of mouth referrals or ease of accessibility. In this study multiple scales for assessment of the various personal predictive variables and several instruments for the assessment of PTSD symptoms were administered to a predominately college student population. This allowed comparison of the relative performance of the scales, validity, ease of administration, and scoring, as well as an analysis of risk factors which were most predictive for PTSD. This study showed that the numbers, percentage, and identification of individuals showing significant PTSD symptoms in a population varied with the scales used. Based on the results of this study, if using more than one instrument to assess PTSD symptoms, the Penn Inventory and the Impact of Event Scales-Revised are recommended. Concurrent psychopathology was found to be the largest contributor to PTSD symptom development. Findings here confirm Eysenck's hypothesis that neuroticism and introversion are correlated and related through anxiety in a small portion of the population. Additionally both anxiety and dissociation are supported as factors in PTSD symptom development. Lastly, nontraditional scoring can yield additional valuable information on some scales and should be considered.