Measuring Outcome in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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This article summarizes the features of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that may affect treatment outcome and discusses the areas in which treatment outcome can be productively evaluated. PTSD is a complex psychiatric condition that tends to run a chronic course. Measurement of treatment outcome in PTSD is confounded by multiple factors, including a high prevalence of comorbid disorders, reactivation of the syndrome by ongoing environmental stressors, spontaneous recovery of the early disorder, and a fluctuating course of the chronic disorder. Four principal domains of treatment outcome may be evaluated in PTSD: core symptom severity, comorbid conditions (particularly depression), adverse practices (e.g., violence or alcohol consumption), and social/vocational disability. To gain an accurate assessment of these domains, a comprehensive assessment battery is needed. The relevant instruments and their yield in studies of PTSD are reviewed.

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(suppl 5):33-39