Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Profiles in Traumatized Refugees

Author(s): Belinda J. LIDDELL, Angela NICKERSON, Kim L. FELMINGHAM, Gin S. MALHI, Jessica CHEUNG, Miriam DEN, Mirjana ASKOVIC, Mariano COELLO, Jorge AROCHE, Richard A. BRYANT


Although it is well documented that exposure to severe, cumulative trauma and postdisplacement stress increases the risk for posttraumatic stress symptom disorder (PTSD), less is known about the representation and predictors of complex PTSD (CPTSD) symptoms in refugee populations. We examined PTSD and CPTSD symptom profiles (co‐occurring PTSD and disturbances in self‐organization [DSO] symptoms) and their premigration, postmigration, and demographic predictors, using latent class analysis (LCA), in a cohort of 112 refugees resettled in Australia. The LCA identified a four‐factor model as the best fit to the data, comprising classes categorized as: (a) CPTSD, exhibiting high levels of PTSD and DSO symptoms (29.5%); (b) PTSD only (23.5%); (c) high affective dysregulation (AD) symptoms (31.9%); and (d) low PTSD and DSO symptoms (15.1%). Membership in the CPTSD and PTSD classes was specifically associated with cumulative traumatization, CPTSD OR = 1.56, 95% CI [1.15, 2.12], and PTSD OR = 1.64, 95% CI [1.15, 2.34]; and female gender, CPTSD OR = 14.18, 95% CI [1.66, 121.29], and PTSD OR = 16.84, 95% CI [1.78, 159.2], relative to the low‐symptom class. Moreover, CPTSD and AD class membership was significantly predicted by insecure visa status, CPTSD OR = 7.53, 95% CI [1.26, 45.08], and AD OR = 7.19, 95% CI [1.23, 42.05]. These findings are consistent with the ICD‐11 model of CPTSD and highlight the contributions of cumulative trauma to CPTSD and PTSD profiles as well as of contextual stress from visa uncertainty to DSO symptom profiles in refugee cohorts, particularly those characterized by AD.

Tags: Australia, Refugees, PTSD, Complex PTSD, War, Torture, Sexual violence

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