The World Health Organization's 11th revision to the International Classification of Diseases manual (ICD-11) will differentiate between two stress-related disorders: PTSD and Complex PTSD (CPTSD). ICD-11 proposals suggest that trauma exposure which is prolonged and/or repeated, or consists of multiple forms, that also occurs under circumstances where escape from the trauma is difficult or impossible (e.g., childhood abuse) will confer greater risk for CPTSD as compared to PTSD. The primary objective of the current study was to provide an empirical assessment of this proposal.
A stratified, random probability sample of a Danish birth cohort (aged 24) was interviewed by the Danish National Centre for Social Research (N = 2980) in 2008-2009. Data from this interview were used to generate an ICD-11 symptom-based classification of PTSD and CPTSD.
The majority of the sample (87.1%) experienced at least one of eight traumatic events spanning childhood and early adulthood. There was some indication that being female increased the risk for both PTSD and CPTSD classification. Multinomial logistic regression results found that childhood sexual abuse (OR = 4.98) and unemployment status (OR = 4.20) significantly increased risk of CPTSD classification as compared to PTSD. A dose-response relationship was observed between exposure to multiple forms of childhood interpersonal trauma and risk of CPTSD classification, as compared to PTSD.
Results provide empirical support for the ICD-11 proposals that childhood interpersonal traumatic exposure increases risk of CPTSD symptom development.