Complex PTSD symptoms mediate the association between childhood trauma and physical health problems

Grace W K Ho, Thanos Karatzias, Frédérique Vallières, Kristina Bondjers, Mark Shevlin, Marylène Cloitre, Menachem Ben-Ezra, Jonathan I Bisson, Neil P Roberts, Laurence Astill Wright, Philip Hyland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

The ICD-11 reconceptualized Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a narrowly defined fear-based disorder, and introduced Complex PTSD (CPTSD) as a new diagnosis comprised of PTSD symptoms and symptoms of 'Disturbances in Self-Organization' (DSO) that are more reflective of general dysphoria. Previous research suggests that PTSD symptoms mediate the association between childhood trauma and physical health problems, including cardiovascular disease. No study has yet assessed how posttraumatic stress symptoms, as outlined in the ICD-11, influence the association between childhood trauma and somatic problems in adulthood.ObjectiveThis cross-sectional descriptive study examined whether PTSD and DSO symptoms mediated the associations between childhood physical and sexual abuse and childhood emotional abuse and neglect and somatic problems and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) load in adulthood.MethodsGeneral adult population samples from Ireland (N = 1020) and the United Kingdom (N = 1051) completed self-report questionnaires online.ResultsStructural equation modelling results indicated that PTSD and DSO symptoms fully mediated the association between both forms of childhood trauma and somatic problems, and that PTSD symptoms but not DSO symptoms fully mediated the association between childhood trauma and CVD load.ConclusionPsychological interventions that effectively treat CPTSD symptoms may have the added benefit of reducing risk of physical health problems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110358
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume142
Early online date12 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • PTSD
  • complex PTSD
  • childhood trauma
  • somatic problems
  • cardiovascular disease

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