Temporal Stability of Cognitive Functioning and Functional Capacity in Women with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2019 Jun 1;34(4):539-547. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acy064.


Objective: In addition to clinical symptoms, patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience considerable disability and may evidence minor impairments in performance on measures of cognition and functional capacity (FC). The objective of the present study was to determine if cognitive and functional skills manifest temporal stability as observed in other neuropsychiatric conditions in the presence of greater fluctuations in clinical symptoms.

Method: Assessments of cognition, FC, and clinical symptoms were conducted over two time points as part of a pre- and post-treatment assessment in a placebo-controlled clinical trial in 96 women with PTSD. The goal of these analyses was to examine the relative stability of scores and intercorrelations of measures of cognition, FC, and clinical symptoms.

Results: Cognitive and FC performance manifested considerably greater cross-temporal stability compared to clinical symptoms. FC performance did not change over time. Similar to previous findings in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder measures of symptoms and self-reported disability did not correlate with measures of functional skills or cognitive performance.

Conclusions: Cognitive performance and functional capacity were temporally stable in women with PTSD. In contrast, clinical symptoms had much more cross-temporal fluctuation. Self-reported disability was correlated with current symptomatology but unrelated to objective measures of performance. Similar to other neuropsychiatric conditions, mood symptoms likely influence estimates of current level of functioning more than cognitive or functional skills.

Keywords: Disability/handicaps; Everyday functioning; Posttraumatic stress disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cognition*
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Self Report
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult