ASTSS 2010 Research Award Recipients

First Prize

Latent Structure and Invariance of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms across Australian Veteran samples
Emma Lockwood (1), Stephen C. Bowden, Ph.D.,(1) and David Forbes, Ph.D. (2)
1 Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia;   Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Australia

Previous confirmatory factor analytic (CFA) studies of the latent structure of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms have supported either of the four-factor models proposed by King, Leskin, King & Weathers (1998) and Simms, Watson & Doebbeling (2002) respectively. However, few studies have used appropriate methods of parameter estimation for ordinal symptom ratings or evaluated the measurement invariance of symptoms across groups that vary with respect to degree of trauma exposure or symptom severity. This study used mean- and variance-adjusted weighted least squares (WLSMV) to investigate the structure of PTSD symptoms in four clinical samples of Australian combat veterans whose symptoms were assessed using the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). King et al’s (1998) model demonstrated superior fit in three of four samples examined including samples of veterans with severe symptoms and high combat exposure. A modified model derived from King et al’s (1998) model involved relocating symptom D3 (difficulty concentrating) onto the same factor as DSM-IV numbing symptoms. The invariance of this new model across high versus low symptom severity groups and high versus low combat exposure groups was evaluated.  Evidence for strict metric invariance was found for both pairs of samples.  Implications for revisions to the DSM diagnostic criteria as well as the broader structure of mood and anxiety disorders are discussed.

Second Prize

Psychosocial Safety Climate, Workplace Bullying, and Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress
Stephanie Bond, Michelle Tuckey (1) & Maureen Dollard
(1) Centre for Applied Psychological Research, Magill Campus, University of South Australia, AUSTRALIA

Although not typical organizational crises, chronic stressors like workplace bullying have the capacity to shatter assumptions and create significant disruption. This paper reviews literature linking organizational climate, workplace bullying, and posttraumatic stress symptoms, and presents a research case study that explores hypotheses raised by the review.

Results showed:
(1) that workplace bullying impacted upon posttraumatic stress symptoms; and that psychosocial organizational climate was (2) related to the occurrence of workplace bullying and (3) moderated the impact of bullying on posttraumatic stress symptoms. Given the contribution of organizational climate to the development of bullying and its effects, the paper concludes with guidelines to develop climates conducive to employee

Third Prize

Hurt people who hurt people: Violence among individuals with comorbid substance use disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder
Emma L Barrett (1), Katherine L Mills (1), Maree Teesson (1)
(1) National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2052

Background: The association between substance use disorder (SUD) and the perpetration of violence has been well documented. There is some evidence to suggest that the presence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among substance users increases the risk for violence. There is, however, a lack of detailed investigations of factors associated with increased risk for violence among individuals with comorbid SUD and PTSD. Aim: This study aims to determine the prevalence of violence perpetration and examine factors related to the risk of violence among individuals with comorbid SUD and PTSD. Data was collected from 102 participants recruited to a randomised controlled trial of an integrated treatment for comorbid SUD and PTSD. The interview addressed demographics, perpetration of violent crime, mental health including aggression, substance use, PTSD, depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder. Results: Over half of the participants reported committing violence in their lifetime and 16% had committed violence in the past month. Those who had committed violence reported higher levels trait aggression, increased use of alcohol and cannabis, decreased use of other opiates, and more severe PTSD symptoms. The independent predictors of violence were higher levels of physical aggression and more severe PTSD hyperarousal symptoms. Conclusions: These findings provide support for the relationship between SUD, PTSD and violence. Knowledge of the factors that predispose individuals to violent offending has important implications for clinical and forensic practitioners.

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