Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Construct Development

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Construct Development

February 18, 2013

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Construct Development
  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is experienced by peoples of all cultures, nationalities, races, genders, and ages. A young child or an elderly person can suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. An individual suspected in having PTSD would need to meet certain criteria in order to be officially diagnosed with PTSD. An evaluator would need to use a combination of observation, ‘checklist’ type tests, and a psychological evaluation including extensive background information based on the event that is supposed to have caused the PTSD. The testing criteria would need to include a construct that could weed out other possible causes for the distress that could dismiss PTSD as the cause of distress like current abuse trauma.

PTSD is, more or less, defined as an unrealistic continual fear or a ‘re-living’ of a traumatic event witnessed of experienced. In order for PTSD to be defined in an individual’s life and for other possible disorders to be distinguishable the trauma has to have happened in the past and not be a current occurrence. In other words, if an individual is living in a current abusive situation and suffering from symptoms like that of PTSD the individual would not necessarily be able to be diagnosed with PTSD until the individual was removed from the abuse. If after this time the individual remains fearful, helpless, or in some other way shows the criteria for PTSD then the evaluator can consider the individual for evaluation for a possible diagnosis.  Operational Definition

Using a sample of 153 veterans, Elizabeth Betemps and Dewleen G. Baker used Rasch measurement theory to “examine the Mississipii Scale-Revised for its utility in the development of interval measure of…(PTSD),” (Betemps & Baker, 2004). The Rasch scale is a probability based theory that includes measuring both the individual responding and the “location of each item calibration on one common construct,” (2004). When using this method one dominant trait is used in the measurement. In this case all the subjects are veterans. By using this limited construct the causes for PTSD are relatable and so the questions developed for the testing can also be relatable directly to the individual. Limiting the construct also makes it easier to define the issue as PTSD or as a possible alternative diagnosis. Using 153 veterans implies that the veterans who could be surmised as possibly suffering from PTSD would have all developed these symptoms from war activities and not necessarily from another cause such as another life event or a biological factor. This narrowing of the target population limits the variable that another underlying condition could be causing symptoms relatable to PTSD but not caused by actually being a victim of PTSD.

When developing the testing for determining the need for further direct PTSD related insight and testing questions were developed that could be used for any number of target populations. However, it is advised that the evaluator narrow the testing criteria to a limited population.

Michelle J. Bovin and Brian P. Marx explored the use of the A2 criterion of the “peritraumatic” experience in defining Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This construct explains that the individual must have experienced intense fear, helplessness, or horror during an event that threatened the life or physical wellbeing of the individual or someone else. Bovin and Marx consider how predictive validity criteria A2 may not be the best metric for evaluating its worth.

Bovin and Marx are both taken into consideration when designing the construct for the PTSD Self-Test. The insight they provide is very important because not everyone process information the same nor do they process a potentially traumatic event the same. As an example many watching J.F.K. be assassinated on TV was very traumatic because of the...
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