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Abstract

The diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have received significant scrutiny. Several studies have investigated the utility of Criterion A2, the subjective emotional response to a traumatic event. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has proposed elimination of A2 from the PTSD diagnostic criteria for DSM-5; however, there is mixed support for this recommendation and few studies have examined A2 in samples at high risk for PTSD such as veterans. In the current study of 908 veterans who screened positive for a traumatic event, A2 was not significantly associated with having been told by a doctor that the veteran had PTSD. Those who endorsed A2, however, reported greater PTSD symptom severity in the 3 DSM-IV symptom clusters of reexperiencing (d = 0.45), avoidance (d = 0.61), and hyperarousal (d = 0.44), and A2 was significantly associated with PTSD symptom severity for all 3 clusters (R2 = .25, .25, and .27, respectively) even with trauma exposure in the model. Thus, although A2 may not be a necessary criterion for PTSD diagnosis, its association with PTSD symptom severity warrants further exploration of its utility.