Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 49, Issue 8, pp 1297–1306 | Cite as

The co-occurrence of PTSD and dissociation: differentiating severe PTSD from dissociative-PTSD

  • Cherie ArmourEmail author
  • Karen-Inge Karstoft
  • J. Don Richardson
Original Paper



A dissociative-posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) subtype has been included in the DSM-5. However, it is not yet clear whether certain socio-demographic characteristics or psychological/clinical constructs such as comorbid psychopathology differentiate between severe PTSD and dissociative-PTSD. The current study investigated the existence of a dissociative-PTSD subtype and explored whether a number of trauma and clinical covariates could differentiate between severe PTSD alone and dissociative-PTSD.


The current study utilized a sample of 432 treatment seeking Canadian military veterans. Participants were assessed with the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) and self-report measures of traumatic life events, depression, and anxiety. CAPS severity scores were created reflecting the sum of the frequency and intensity items from each of the 17 PTSD and 3 dissociation items. The CAPS severity scores were used as indicators in a latent profile analysis (LPA) to investigate the existence of a dissociative-PTSD subtype. Subsequently, several covariates were added to the model to explore differences between severe PTSD alone and dissociative-PTSD.


The LPA identified five classes: one of which constituted a severe PTSD group (30.5 %), and one of which constituted a dissociative-PTSD group (13.7 %). None of the included, demographic, trauma, or clinical covariates were significantly predictive of membership in the dissociative-PTSD group compared to the severe PTSD group.


In conclusion, a significant proportion of individuals report high levels of dissociation alongside their PTSD, which constitutes a dissociative-PTSD subtype. Further investigation is needed to identify which factors may increase or decrease the likelihood of membership in a dissociative-PTSD subtype group compared to a severe PTSD only group.


Posttraumatic stress disorder Dissociation Dissociative subtype CAPS LPA Veterans Canadian 


Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cherie Armour
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Karen-Inge Karstoft
    • 2
  • J. Don Richardson
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of Ulster at Coleraine CampusColeraineNorthern Ireland, UK
  2. 2.The National Centre for PsychotraumatologyUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  3. 3.Parkwood Operational Stress Injury Clinic, St. Joseph’s Health Care London, Parkwood HospitalUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryWestern UniversityLondonCanada
  5. 5.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral NeuroscienceMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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