A scheme for categorizing traumatic military events

Behav Modif. 2012 Nov;36(6):787-807. doi: 10.1177/0145445512446945. Epub 2012 Jun 7.


A common assumption among clinicians and researchers is that war trauma primarily involves fear-based reactions to life-threatening situations. However, the authors believe that there are multiple types of trauma in the military context, each with unique perievent and postevent response patterns. To test this hypothesis, they reviewed structured clinical interviews of 122 active duty service members and assigned the reported index (principal, most currently distressing) events to one or more of the following categories: Life Threat to Self, Life Threat to Others, Aftermath of Violence, Traumatic Loss, Moral Injury by Self, and Moral Injury by Others. They found high interrater reliability for the coding scheme and support for the construct validity of the categorizations. In addition, they discovered that certain categories were related to psychiatric symptoms (e.g., reexperiencing of the traumatic event, guilt, anger) and negative thoughts about the world. Their study provides tentative support for use of these event categories.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Combat Disorders* / complications
  • Combat Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Combat Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological / methods*
  • Life Change Events*
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / complications
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / physiopathology
  • United States