Which method of posttraumatic stress disorder classification best predicts psychosocial function in children with traumatic brain injury?

J Anxiety Disord. 2010 Oct;24(7):774-9. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.05.011. Epub 2010 May 25.


Controversy surrounds the classification of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), particularly in children and adolescents with traumatic brain injury (TBI). In these populations, it is difficult to differentiate TBI-related organic memory loss from dissociative amnesia. Several alternative PTSD classification algorithms have been proposed for use with children. This paper investigates DSM-IV-TR and alternative PTSD classification algorithms, including and excluding the dissociative amnesia item, in terms of their ability to predict psychosocial function following pediatric TBI. A sample of 184 children aged 6-14 years were recruited following emergency department presentation and/or hospital admission for TBI. PTSD was assessed via semi-structured clinical interview (CAPS-CA) with the child at 3 months post-injury. Psychosocial function was assessed using the parent report CHQ-PF50. Two alternative classification algorithms, the PTSD-AA and 2 of 3 algorithms, reached statistical significance. While the inclusion of the dissociative amnesia item increased prevalence rates across algorithms, it generally resulted in weaker associations with psychosocial function. The PTSD-AA algorithm appears to have the strongest association with psychosocial function following TBI in children and adolescents. Removing the dissociative amnesia item from the diagnostic algorithm generally results in improved validity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Algorithms
  • Amnesia / diagnosis*
  • Amnesia / etiology
  • Amnesia / psychology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / psychology
  • Child
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • ROC Curve
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / classification*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology