Complex PTSD symptoms mediate the association between childhood trauma and physical health problems

Grace W.K. Ho, Thanos Karatzias, Frédérique Vallières, Kristina Bondjers, Mark Shevlin, Marylène Cloitre, Menachem Ben-Ezra, Jonathan I. Bisson, Neil P. Roberts, Laurence Astill Wright, Philip Hyland

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The ICD-11 reconceptualized Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a narrowly defined fear-based disorder, and introduced Complex PTSD (CPTSD) as a new diagnosis comprised of PTSD symptoms and symptoms of ‘Disturbances in Self-Organization’ (DSO) that are more reflective of general dysphoria. Previous research suggests that PTSD symptoms mediate the association between childhood trauma and physical health problems, including cardiovascular disease. No study has yet assessed how posttraumatic stress symptoms, as outlined in the ICD-11, influence the association between childhood trauma and somatic problems in adulthood. Objective: This cross-sectional descriptive study examined whether PTSD and DSO symptoms mediated the associations between childhood physical and sexual abuse and childhood emotional abuse and neglect and somatic problems and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) load in adulthood. Methods: General adult population samples from Ireland (N = 1020) and the United Kingdom (N = 1051) completed self-report questionnaires online. Results: Structural equation modelling results indicated that PTSD and DSO symptoms fully mediated the association between both forms of childhood trauma and somatic problems, and that PTSD symptoms but not DSO symptoms fully mediated the association between childhood trauma and CVD load. Conclusion: Psychological interventions that effectively treat CPTSD symptoms may have the added benefit of reducing risk of physical health problems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110358
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume142
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Childhood trauma
  • Complex PTSD
  • PTSD
  • Somatic problems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this