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Measuring Outcome in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Arieh Y. Shalev, MD

Published: May 31, 2000

Article Abstract

This article summarizes the features of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that may affect treatmentoutcome 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 treatmentoutcome 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 theearly disorder, and a fluctuating course of the chronic disorder. Four principal domains of treatmentoutcome 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. Therelevant instruments and their yield in studies of PTSD are reviewed.

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