A Bayesian network analysis of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in adults reporting childhood sexual abuse
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CitationMcNally, Richard J., Alexandre Heeren, and Donald J. Robinaugh. 2017. “A Bayesian network analysis of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in adults reporting childhood sexual abuse.” European Journal of Psychotraumatology 8 (sup3): 1341276. doi:10.1080/20008198.2017.1341276. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2017.1341276.
AbstractABSTRACT Background: The network approach to mental disorders offers a novel framework for conceptualizing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a causal system of interacting symptoms. Objective: In this study, we extended this work by estimating the structure of relations among PTSD symptoms in adults reporting personal histories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA; N = 179). Method: We employed two complementary methods. First, using the graphical LASSO, we computed a sparse, regularized partial correlation network revealing associations (edges) between pairs of PTSD symptoms (nodes). Next, using a Bayesian approach, we computed a directed acyclic graph (DAG) to estimate a directed, potentially causal model of the relations among symptoms. Results: For the first network, we found that physiological reactivity to reminders of trauma, dreams about the trauma, and lost of interest in previously enjoyed activities were highly central nodes. However, stability analyses suggest that these findings were unstable across subsets of our sample. The DAG suggests that becoming physiologically reactive and upset in response to reminders of the trauma may be key drivers of other symptoms in adult survivors of CSA. Conclusions: Our study illustrates the strengths and limitations of these network analytic approaches to PTSD.
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