Ethnoracial Differences in PTSD Symptoms and Trauma-Related Cognitions in Treatment-Seeking Active Duty Military Personnel for PTSD

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Abstract

Objective: It is uncertain whether ethnoracial factors should be considered by clinicians assessing and treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among service members. The purpose of this study was to shed light on ethnoracial variation in the presentation of PTSD symptoms, trauma-related cognitions, and emotions among treatment-seeking active duty military personnel. Method: Participants were 303 male active duty military members with PTSD participating in a clinical trial (60% were self-identified as White, 19% as African American, and 21% as Hispanic/Latino). In the parent study, participants completed a baseline assessment that included clinician-administered and self-report measures of PTSD, trauma-related cognitions, and emotions. Results: Multivariate hierarchical regression models were used to examine ethnoracial differences in these variables, covarying age, education, military grade, combat exposure, and exposure to other potentially traumatic events. Hispanic/Latino and African American participants reported more reexperiencing symptoms, more fear, and more guilt and numbing than White participants. All effect sizes were in the small to medium range. Conclusions: These findings suggest ethnoracial variation in PTSD symptom burden and posttraumatic cognitions among treatment-seeking service members with PTSD. Attending to cultural factors related to differences in PTSD presentation and cognitive coping strategies during the assessment and treatment process could increase rapport and lead to more comprehensive trauma processing.

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