Disturbed Sleep Connects Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Somatization: a network analysis approach

Laurence Astill Wright*, Neil P. Roberts, Kali Barawi, Natalie Simon, Stanley Zammit, Eoin McElroy, Jonathan I. Bisson

*Corresponding author for this work

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

11 Citations (Scopus)
97 Downloads (Pure)


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and physical health problems, particularly somatic symptom disorder, are highly comorbid. Studies have only examined this co‐occurrence at the disorder level rather than assessing the associations between specific symptoms. Using network analysis to identify symptoms that act as bridges between these disorders may allow for the development of interventions to specifically target this comorbidity. We examined the association between somatization and PTSD symptoms via network analysis. This included 349 trauma‐exposed individuals recruited through the National Centre for Mental Health PTSD cohort who completed the Clinician‐Administered PTSD Scale for DSM‐5 and the Patient Health Questionnaire–15. A total of 215 (61.6%) individuals met the DSM‐5 diagnostic criteria for PTSD. An exploratory graph analysis identified four clusters of densely connected symptoms within the overall network: PTSD, chronic pain, gastrointestinal issues, and more general somatic complaints. Sleep difficulties played a key role in bridging PTSD and somatic symptoms. Our network analysis demonstrates the distinct nature of PTSD and somatization symptoms, with this association connected by disturbed sleep.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-383
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Issue number2
Early online date10 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2021


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