Exploring complex-PTSD comorbidity in trauma-exposed Northern Ireland veterans

Eric Spikol, Martin Robinson, Emily McGlinchey, Jana Ross, Cherie Armour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) describes the results of complex, prolonged, and/or inescapable trauma, and is typified by avoidance, re-experiencing, sense of threat, affect dysregulation, negative self-concept, and interpersonal disturbances. Additionally, CPTSD is highly comorbid with other common psychopathologies. Objectives: A study was conducted in a trauma-exposed UK Armed Forces Veteran population resident in Northern Ireland (N=638, NI) to determine the prevalence of CPTSD and comorbid associations.Methods: Data from the Northern Ireland Veterans Health and Wellbeing Study (NIVHWS), including self-report data describing traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and suicidality, were used in a latent class analysis to identify distinct profiles of symptomology in the sample, and in a multinomial logistic regression to identify comorbidities associated with class membership.Results: Three distinct classes emerged: a low endorsement ‘baseline’ class (36%), a ‘Moderate Symptomatic’ class (27%), and a high endorsement ‘Probable CPTSD’ class (37%). Both the Moderate Symptomatic and CPTSD classes were predicted by cumulative trauma exposure. Depression was highly comorbid (OR=23.06 in CPTSD), as was anxiety (OR=22.05 in CPTSD) and suicidal ideation (OR=4.32 in CPTSD), with suicidal attempt associated with the CPTSD class (OR=2.51).Conclusions: Cases of probable CPTSD were more prevalent than cases of probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) without Difficulties in Self-Organisation (DSO) symptoms in a UK Armed Forces veteran sample, were associated with repeated/cumulative trauma, and were highly comorbid across a range of psychopathologies. Findings validate previous literature on CPTSD and indicate considerable distress and thus need for support in UK Armed Forces veterans resident in NI.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2046953
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Mar 2022


  • complex post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Northern Ireland
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • PTSD
  • trauma exposure
  • Veteran


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