Avoidance symptoms and assessment of posttraumatic stress disorder in Arab immigrant women


  • This study was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, NR 008504, to Dr. Karen J. Aroian, Principal Investigator. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association in Kissimee, Florida in October, 2007.


This study investigates whether the avoidance symptom criterion required for a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is overly conservative. Arab immigrant women (N = 453), many of whom reported experiencing multiple traumatic events, completed the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale in Arabic as part of a face to face interview. Analyses indicated all but one avoidance symptom was reported less frequently than reexperiencing and arousal symptoms. However, those who fully met reexperiencing, avoidance, and arousal symptom criteria had worse symptom severity and functioning than those who fully met reexperiencing and arousal symptom criteria, but only partially met avoidance symptom criterion. Study findings support importance of the PTSD avoidance symptom criterion.