Ever since the publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), there has been a controversy around whether the inclusion of indirect exposure as a potential traumatic event for the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is justified. The aim of the current study was to examine the validity of PTSD resulting from secondary traumatization by evaluating the longitudinal trajectories and clinical picture of PTSD following both direct exposure and indirect exposure to war trauma. One-hundred-and-fifty-five war veterans of the 1973 Yom Kippur War and their spouses filled out self-report questionnaires assessing PTSD, 30 (T1), 38 (T2), and 42 years (T3) after the war. Findings revealed that although PTSD was more prevalent and intense among veterans, the relative distribution of PTSD trajectories was similar among veterans and spouses. In both groups, the most prevalent was the resilient trajectory (43% and 73%, respectively), followed by the recovered trajectory (28% and 15%, respectively), the chronic trajectory (21% and 7%, respectively), and the delayed trajectory (8% and 6%, respectively). In addition, the composition of PTSD symptoms was similar among veterans and spouses at T1 and T2, but not at T3. These findings demonstrate that although PTSD is more prevalent and intense among individuals who were exposed to traumatic events directly as compared to those who were traumatized secondarily, the similarities in the clinical picture support the inclusion of secondary traumatization in PTSD Criterion A.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Secondary traumatization