Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 48, Issue 8, pp 1189–1197

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

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-012-0639-x

Cite this article as:
North, C.S. & Oliver, J. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2013) 48: 1189. doi:10.1007/s00127-012-0639-x



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.


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.


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.


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.


Posttraumatic stress disorderDisasterOnsetRemissionCourse

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag (outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The VA North Texas Health Care SystemDallasUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Psychiatry and Surgery/Division of Emergency MedicineThe University of Texas Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA
  3. 3.The University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA