The latent structure of posttraumatic stress disorder: A taxometric investigation of reactions to extreme stress

Ayelet Meron Ruscio, Pennsylvania State University
John Rusciob, Elizabethtown College
Terence M. Keane, Boston University School of Medicine


Mental health professionals have debated whether posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be qualitatively distinguished from normal reactions to traumatic events. This debate has been fueled by indications that many trauma-exposed individuals evidence partial presentations of PTSD that are associated with significant impairment and help-seeking behavior. The authors examined the latent structure of PTSD in a large sample of male combat veterans. Three taxometric procedures - MAMBAC, MAXEIG, and L-Mode - were performed with 3 indicator sets drawn from a clinical interview and a self-report measure of PTSD. Results across procedures, consistency tests, and analysis of simulated comparison data all converged on a dimensional solution, suggesting that PTSD reflects the upper end of a stress-response continuum rather than a discrete clinical syndrome.