The factor structure of complex posttraumatic stress disorder in traumatized refugees

Author(s): Angela NICKERSON ; Marylene CLOITRE ; Richard A. BRYANT ; Ulrich SCHNYDER ; Naser MORINA ; Matthis SCHICK



The construct of complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) has attracted much research attention in previous years, however it has not been systematically evaluated in individuals exposed to persecution and displacement. Given that CPTSD has been proposed as a diagnostic category in the ICD-11, it is important that it be examined in refugee groups.


In the current study, we proposed to test, for the first time, the factor structure of CPTSD proposed for the ICD-11 in a sample of resettled treatment-seeking refugees.


The study sample consisted of 134 traumatized refugees from a variety of countries of origin, with approximately 93% of the sample having been exposed to torture. We used confirmatory factor analysis to examine the factor structure of CPTSD in this sample and examined the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive power and negative predictive power of individual items in relation to the CPTSD diagnosis.


Findings revealed that a two-factor higher-order model of CPTSD comprising PTSD and Difficulties in Self-Organization (χ2 (47)=57.322, p=0.144, RMSEA=0.041, CFI=0.981, TLI=0.974) evidenced superior fit compared to a one-factor higher-order model of CPTSD (χ2 (48)=65.745, p=0.045, RMSEA=0.053, CFI=0.968, TLI=0.956). Overall, items evidenced strong sensitivity and negative predictive power, moderate positive predictive power, and poor specificity.


Findings provide preliminary evidence for the validity of the CPTSD construct with highly traumatized treatment-seeking refugees.

Keywords: Refugeestortureposttraumatic stress disorderPTSD

Tags: Switzerland, Complex PTSD, PTSD, Torture, Refugees

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