Analysis of the longitudinal course of PTSD in 716 survivors of 10 disasters

Carol S North, Julianne Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Purpose: Identification of consistent predictors of the temporal course of PTSD has been hampered by non-uniform definitions of onset and remission. Onset and remission of PTSD based on different definitions were examined in a large database of systematically assessed disaster survivors. Methods: Directly exposed survivors of 10 disasters were studied within approximately 3 months of the disasters and again 1-3 years later, using consistent methods including full diagnostic assessment, allowing aggregation of data from different disasters into a unified database of 716 survivors. Results: Application of existing definitions of PTSD onset and remission uncovered problems with definitions based on diagnostic threshold as well as onset/remission of symptoms. Few predictors of timing of onset and PTSD remission were identified. Regardless, PTSD symptom group C was found to be pivotal to processes involved in both onset and remission of the disorder. Conclusions: Research findings related to the onset and remission of PTSD are highly dependent on the definition used. Both symptom-based and diagnostic threshold-based definitions are problematic. Definitions of the onset and remission of PTSD might be more effectively based on the onset and remission of group C symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1189-1197
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Course
  • Disaster
  • Onset
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Remission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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