Change in posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms: do clinicians and patients agree?

Psychol Assess. 2008 Jun;20(2):131-8. doi: 10.1037/1040-3590.20.2.131.


This study assessed the longitudinal association between clinician and patient ratings of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms over the course of 2 different randomized clinical trials of veterans with chronic PTSD. One trial, the Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study 420 (CSP 420; N = 360) compared trauma-focused and present-centered group therapies, and the 2nd trial compared cognitive processing theory and a waitlist control condition (N = 60). Linear mixed effects modeling revealed significant associations between clinician ratings (Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale; CAPS; D. D. Blake et al., 1990) and patient ratings (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist; PCL; F. W. Weathers, B. T. Litz, J. A. Herman, J. A. Huska, & T. M. Keane, 1993) in total and symptom clusters of PTSD. Contrary to hypothesis, the amount of change on the CAPS ranged from .75 to .82 standard deviations for every 1 standard deviation change on the PCL. The CAPS and PCL were more closely associated in the trauma-focused vs. present-centered treatment condition in CSP 420, and especially regarding hyperarousal symptoms. When comparing categorization of clinically significant change on the CAPS and PCL, the authors found no differences in the percentages of agreement between clinicians and patients in improvement and exacerbation. The value of multimodal assessment of PTSD treatment outcomes is discussed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients / psychology
  • Outpatients / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods
  • Self Disclosure
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veterans / psychology
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data
  • Vietnam Conflict