Does size really matter? A multisite study assessing the latent structure of the proposed ICD-11 and the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for PTSD

Maj Hansen, Phillip Hyland, Karen-Inge Karstoft, Henrick Vaegter, Rikke Bramsen, Anni Nielsen, Cherie Armour, Søren B Andersen, Mette Terp Hoybye, Simone Kongshoj Larsen, Tonny E Andersen

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Background: Researchers and clinicians within the field of trauma have to choose between different diagnostic descriptions of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the DSM-5 and the proposed ICD-11. Several studies support different competing models of the PTSD structure according to both diagnostic systems; however, findings show that the choice of diagnostic systems can affect the estimated prevalence rates.Objectives: The present study aimed to investigate the potential impact of using a large (i.e. the DSM-5) compared to a small (i.e. the ICD-11) diagnostic description of PTSD. In other words, does the size of PTSD really matter?Methods: The aim was investigated by examining differences in diagnostic rates between the two diagnostic systems and independently examining the model fit of the competing DSM-5 and ICD-11 models of PTSD across three trauma samples: university students (N = 4213), chronic pain patients (N = 573), and military personnel (N = 118).Results: Diagnostic rates of PTSD were significantly lower according to the proposed ICD-11 criteria in the university sample, but no significant differences were found for chronic pain patients and military personnel. The proposed ICD-11 three-factor model provided the best fit of the tested ICD-11 models across all samples, whereas the DSM-5 seven-factor Hybrid model provided the best fit in the university and pain samples, and the DSM-5 six-factor Anhedonia model provided the best fit in the military sample of the tested DSM-5 models.Conclusions: The advantages and disadvantages of using a broad or narrow set of symptoms for PTSD can be debated, however, this study demonstrated that choice of diagnostic system may influence the estimated PTSD rates both qualitatively and quantitatively. In the current described diagnostic criteria only the ICD-11 model can reflect the configuration of symptoms satisfactorily. Thus, size does matter when assessing PTSD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue numbersup7
Early online date13 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished online - 13 Nov 2017


  • PTSD
  • DSM-5
  • ICD-11
  • CFA


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