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PACT/R publication: Latent classes of DSM-5 acute stress disorder symptoms in children after single-incident trauma

In June 2019, a group of doctoral students and early career researchers gathered at the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS) meeting to collaborate in creating a "Paper in a Day" making use of PACT/R data.  While the time frame in reality was more like "paper in a few months" - the result is impressive.   Read the paper here 

Lonneke I. M. Lenferink, Marthe R. Egberts, Marie-Louise Kullberg, Maya G. Meentken, Sarah Zimmermann, Yoki L. Mertens, Angela A.T. Schuurmans, Yaara Sadeh, Nancy Kassam-Adams & Annegret Krause-Utz (2020) Latent classes of DSM-5 acute stress disorder symptoms in children after single-incident trauma: findings from an international data archive, European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 11:1, DOI: 10.1080/20008198.2020.1717156


Background: After a potentially traumatic event (PTE), children often show symptoms of acute stress disorder (ASD), which may evolve into posttraumatic stress (PTS) disorder. A growing body of literature has employed latent class analysis (LCA) to disentangle the complex structure underlying PTS symptomatology, distinguishing between homogeneous subgroups based on PTS presentations. So far, little is known about subgroups or classes of ASD reactions in trauma-exposed children.

Objective: Our study aimed to identify latent classes of ASD symptoms in children exposed to a single-incident PTE and to identify predictors of class membership (gender, age, cultural background, parental education, trauma type, and trauma history).

Method: A sample of 2287 children and adolescents (5–18 years) was derived from the Prospective studies of Acute Child Trauma and Recovery (PACT/R) Data Archive, an international archive including studies from the USA, UK, Australia, and Switzerland. LCA was used to determine distinct subgroups based on ASD symptoms. Predictors of class membership were examined using a three-step approach.

Results: Our LCA yielded a three-class solution: low (42%), intermediate (43%) and high (15%) ASD symptom severity that differed in terms of impairment and number of endorsed ASD symptoms. Compared to the low symptoms class, children in the intermediate or high severity class were more likely to be of female gender, be younger of age, have parents who had not completed secondary education, and be exposed to a road traffic accident or interpersonal violence (vs. an unintentional injury).

Conclusions: These findings provide new information on children at risk for ASD after single-incident trauma, based on a unique set of international data. Classifying children based on latent symptom profiles helps to identify target groups for prevention and intervention after exposure to a PTE.