Latent difference score approach to longitudinal trauma research



In this article, the authors introduce a latent difference score (LDS) approach to analyzing longitudinal data in trauma research. The LDS approach accounts for internal sources of change in an outcome variable, including the influence of prior status on subsequent levels of that variable and the tendency for individuals to experience natural change (e.g., a natural decrease in posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] symptoms over time). Under traditional model assumptions, the LDSs are maximally reliable and therefore less likely to introduce biases into model testing. The authors illustrate the method using a sample of children who experienced significant burns or other injuries to examine potential influences (i.e., age of child–adolescent at time of trauma and ongoing family strains) on PTSD symptom severity over time.