The importance of the DSM-IV E and F criteria in self-report assessments of PTSD

J Anxiety Disord. 2010 Jan;24(1):161-6. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2009.10.004.


The purpose of the current study was to examine the DSM-IV E and F criteria when using self-report measures of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to DSM-IV there are six core criteria required for a PTSD diagnosis including specific trauma characteristics, re-experiencing, avoidance, hyperarousal, duration, and impairment level. The Impact of Events Scale (IES) is a widely used self-report measure designed to measure PTSD symptoms. It has recently been suggested that the IES may produce misleading results, making emotional reactions to obviously non-traumatic events look like PTSD. In two separate studies, when duration (E criterion) and subjective impairment (F criterion) were included, the rates of those meeting PTSD criteria dropped from 20% to 3%. In addition, only 30% of events identified by a trauma history questionnaire met the DSM-IV definition of a traumatic event. The results have implications for the use of self-report measures in the assessment of PTSD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics
  • Self Disclosure
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires