Peritraumatic dissociation and posttraumatic stress in male Vietnam theater veterans

Am J Psychiatry. 1994 Jun;151(6):902-7. doi: 10.1176/ajp.151.6.902.


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the reliability and validity of a proposed measure of peritraumatic dissociation and, as part of that effort, to determine the relationship between dissociative experiences during disturbing combat trauma and the subsequent development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Method: A total of 251 male Vietnam theater veterans from the Clinical Examination Component of the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study were examined to determine the relationship of war zone stress exposure, retrospective reports of dissociation during the most disturbing combat trauma events, and general dissociative tendencies with PTSD case determination.

Results: The total score on the Peritraumatic Dissociation Experiences Questionnaire--Rater Version was strongly associated with level of posttraumatic stress symptoms, level of stress exposure, and general dissociative tendencies and weakly associated with general psychopathology scales from the MMPI-2. Logistic regression analyses supported the incremental value of dissociation during trauma, over and above the contributions of level of war zone stress exposure and general dissociative tendencies, in accounting for PTSD case determination.

Conclusions: These results provide support for the reliability and validity of the Peritraumatic Dissociation Experiences Questionnaire--Rater Version and for a trauma-dissociation linkage hypothesis: the greater the dissociation during traumatic stress exposure, the greater the likelihood of meeting criteria for current PTSD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Dissociative Disorders / epidemiology
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • MMPI / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Veterans / psychology
  • Vietnam
  • Warfare*