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Quantitative and Qualitative Subgroup Differences in PTSD Symptom Presentations: A Latent Class Analysis




Whiteman, Sarah

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Psychological Sciences

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a highly heterogeneous disorder (Galatzer-Levy & Bryant, 2013). Latent class analysis (LCA) and latent profile analysis (LPA) have been used to identify homogeneous subgroups of individuals with PTSD symptoms. However, most of these studies are based on DSM-IV rather than DSM-5 PTSD criteria. In addition, these studies employ different indicators of class membership, which contributes to variability in the number and nature of latent classes identified. Specifically, studies have identified (a) quantitatively different classes (i.e., low, moderate, and high PTSD symptoms; e.g., Contractor et al., 2018); (b) quantitatively and qualitatively different classes (e.g., moderate PTSD symptoms with high reexperiencing symptoms; Sripada et al., 2020); and (c) primarily qualitatively different classes (e.g., dysphoric, anxious/reexperiencing, high symptoms; Pietrzak et al., 2014). Further, there is relatively limited validation of latent classes with respect to differential relationships with external correlates, such as various forms of comorbid psychopathology. Accordingly, to address these limitations, an LCA of DSM-5 PTSD symptoms was conducted in a sample of undergraduate students (N = 322) who met criteria for a subthreshold diagnosis of PTSD. The current study aimed to replicate and extend findings from the limited number of LCAs of DSM-5 PTSD criteria, and to examine quantitative and qualitative class differences in PTSD symptoms and other forms of psychopathology. Findings revealed a three-class solution: Low Anhedonia/Externalizing Behaviors, Moderate Symptoms, and High Symptoms of PTSD. Class differences were validated with the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI; Morey, 1991). Implications and future directions are discussed.