Factor Structure of the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5

Cherie Armour, Ateka Contractor, Tracie Shea, Jon D. Elhai, Robert H. Pietrzak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Scarce data are available regarding the dimensional structure of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and how factors relate to external constructs. We evaluated six competing models of DSM-5 PTSD symptoms, including Anhedonia, Externalizing Behaviors, and Hybrid models, using confirmatory factor analyses in a sample of 412 trauma-exposed college students. We then examined whether PTSD symptom clusters were differentially related to measures of anger and impulsivity using Wald chi-square tests. The seven-factor Hybrid model was deemed optimal compared with the alternatives. All symptom clusters were associated with anger; the strongest association was between externalizing behaviors and anger (r = 0.54). All symptom clusters, except reexperiencing and avoidance, were associated with impulsivity, with the strongest association between externalizing behaviors and impulsivity (r = 0.49). A seven-factor Hybrid model provides superior fit to DSM-5 PTSD symptom data, with the externalizing behaviors factor being most strongly related to anger and impulsivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-115
JournalThe Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2016


  • PTSD
  • PCL-5
  • anger
  • impulsivity
  • DSM-5
  • confirmatory factor analysis


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