[Assessment of complex PTSD - internal and external validity of a diagnostic interview]

Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol. 2008 May;58(5):192-9. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-971011. Epub 2007 Sep 10.
[Article in German]


Background: The diagnostic construct of complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD) describes the consequences of early onset and long-term persisting psychological traumatizations. The interview for complex PTSD (I-kPTBS) - is the German adaptation of the structured interview for disorders of extreme stress (SIDES). The present study reports first data regarding the internal validity of the I-kPTBS as well as on the external validity of the diagnosis of complex PTSD.

Method: The I-kPTBS was applied in 72 consecutive patients of a specialized outpatient clinic. 31 patients fulfilled the criteria of the diagnosis complex PTSD. 25 suffered from a PTSD but did not fulfil the diagnostic criteria of complex PTSD. Both groups where compared regarding their symptoms, resources and reports of childhood events.

Results: Internal consistence of the I-kPTBS regarding the sample was good to excellent (alpha = 0.88). As expected, patients with the diagnosis of complex PTSD showed more severe dissociative, depressive and general anxiety symptoms than patients with PTSD alone. Patients fulfilling the criteria of complex PTSD reported a lower age at their first traumatic event, more multiple traumatizations and more often a dissociative disorder as comorbid diagnosis. Patients with complex PTSD show a higher traumaload in childhood and a lower level of compensatory resources.

Discussion: The interview for complex PTSD (I-kPTBS) describes a consistent diagnostic construct. The results demonstrate that the diagnosis of complex PTSD selects a specific group of patients with early childhood trauma and high symptom level. Specific criteria can differentiate this patient group well from patients that suffer from PTSD alone.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Interview, Psychological*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology