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Factor structure and external correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms among African American firefighters

Authors Arbona C, Fan W, Noor N

Received 26 May 2016

Accepted for publication 13 June 2016

Published 11 August 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 201—209


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Consuelo Arbona, Weihua Fan, Nausheen Noor

Department of Psychological, Health, and Learning Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA

Abstract: This study compared the relative goodness of fit of three well-established factorial models of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among 477 African American male firefighters in a large city in the US. The compared models were the two four-factor emotional numbing and dysphoria models and a five-factor dysphoric arousal model. The study also examined the convergent and discriminant validity of PTSD symptom clusters in relation to depression and alcohol dependence symptoms. Both the emotional numbing and dysphoric arousal PTSD models provided a superior fit to the data compared to the dysphoria model. Findings also indicated a good fit for factor models that included PTSD, depression, and alcohol dependence latent factors, which provides support for the specificity of PTSD symptom clusters. Depression symptoms were more strongly correlated with PTSD symptom clusters than alcohol dependence. In the dysphoric arousal model, depression and alcohol dependence were equally related to the emotional numbing and dysphoric arousal clusters; however, both depression and alcohol dependence were more highly correlated with dysphoric arousal than with anxious arousal. Even though the emotional numbing and dysphoric arousal models demonstrated a superior fit to the data, the four-factor dysphoria model may provide a more parsimonious representation of PTSD’s latent structure than the five-factor dysphoric arousal model. In conclusion, this study extends support for the well-established PTSD symptom factor models among African Americans, a population with whom these models had not been examined earlier.

Keywords: posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, PTSD, African American, factor structure, depression, alcohol problems

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