Evidence for the coherence and integrity of the complex PTSD (CPTSD) diagnosis: response to Achterhof et al., (2019) and Ford (2020)

Marylène Cloitre, Chris R. Brewin, Jonathan I. Bisson, Philip Hyland, Thanos Karatzias, Brigitte Lueger-Schuster, Andreas Maercker, Neil P. Roberts, Mark Shevlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
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This letter to the editor responds to a recent EJPT editorial and following commentary which express concerns about the validity of the ICD-11 complex PTSD (CPTSD) diagnosis. Achterhof and colleagues caution that latent profile analyses and latent class analyses, which have been frequently used to demonstrate the discriminative validity of the ICD-11 PTSD and CPTSD constructs, have limitations and cannot be relied on to definitively determine the validity of the diagnosis. Ford takes a broader perspective and introduces the concept of ‘cPTSD’ which describes a wide ranging set of symptoms identified from studies related to DSM-IV, DSM-V and ICD-11 and proposes that the validity of the ICD-11 CPTSD is in question as it does not address the multiple symptoms identified from previous trauma-related disorders. We argue that ICD-11 CPTSD is a theory-driven, empirically supported construct that has internal consistency and conceptual coherence and that it need not explain nor resolve the inconsistencies of past formulations to demonstrate its validity. We do agree with Ford and with Achterhof and colleagues that no one single statistical process can definitively answer the question of whether CPTSD is a valid construct. We reference several studies utilizing many different statistical approaches implemented across several countries, the overwhelming majority of which have supported the validity of ICD-11 as a unique construct. We conclude with our own cautions about ICD-11 CPTSD research to date and identify important next steps.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1739873
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Volume11, 2020
Issue number1
Early online date3 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Dec 2020


  • ICD-11
  • Complex PTSD


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