Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Date of Defense

9-29-2009

Graduate Advisor

Michael G. Griffin, Ph.D.

Committee

Matthew Kliethermes, Ph.D.

Ann Steffen, Ph.D.

Sharon Johnson, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation was to study a host of PTSD assessment-related problems in children with a trauma history (N = 110) who were seeking treatment at a community mental health clinic. Exploratory factor analyses using the trauma-related and non-trauma-related subscales on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach 1991), UCLA PTSD Index (Pynoos 1998), and the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC; Briere 1996) were conducted. Results indicated that in children aged 7 to 11, but not in older children aged 12 to 17, the UCLA PTSD Index and the TSCC trauma-related scales formed a trauma factor. The CBCL “trauma” scale did not load onto this trauma factor. Although there were no racial differences on the TSCC “PTS” scale, African-American children were more likely than Caucasian children to have clinical elevations on the UCLA PTSD Index “PTSD overall severity score”; Caucasian children were more likely than African-American children to have clinical elevations on the CBCL “trauma” scale. These differences were partially accounted for by an estimate of household income, however, there continued to be a trend indicating that there were racial differences on clinically significant elevations on these scales. Also, the TSCC "PTS" scale performed significantly above chance and had moderate specificity and high sensitivity when compared with the UCLA PTSD Index "PTSD full diagnosis likely" question. The CBCL "trauma" scale performed significantly above chance and demonstrated moderate specificity and moderate sensitivity when contrasted with the UCLA PTSD Index "PTSD full diagnosis likely" question. However, the TSCC “PTS” scale performed better when compared to the UCLA PTSD Index “PTSD full diagnosis likely” question than the CBCL “trauma” scale did when compared to the UCLA PTSD Index “PTSD full diagnosis likely” question. Lastly, secondary analyses indicated that children in this sample were unlikely to meet DSM-IV criteria for avoidance cluster symptoms. However, African-American children were more likely than Caucasian to have a clinically significant number of avoidance symptoms. These findings indicate that many of the trauma focused instruments appear to adequately, but not ideally, assess for children’s PTSD symptoms. Future directions and limitations of this study are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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