The Influence of Transdiagnostic Vulnerability Factors on PTSD Symptom Clusters in a Veteran Sample

Michael A. Kreminski, James A. Courtney, Sean P.A. Drummond, Peter J. Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: There is continuing debate as to the latent structure underpinning posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology. The transdiagnostic vulnerability factors of negative affect, anxiety sensitivity (and subcomponents) and intolerance of uncertainty have previously demonstrated the ability to explain symptom clusters in a range of anxiety and depressive disorders, and may give further understanding of PTSD symptomatology. Method: Within an Australian Defence Force veteran population, structural equation modeling is utilized to assess whether a hierarchical Original Model containing negative affect as the general cognitive factor, anxiety sensitivity and intolerance of uncertainty as mid-level factors, can explain variability among posttraumatic stress disorder symptom clusters as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. A further hierarchical Anxiety Sensitivity Extended model consisting of the general cognitive factor of negative affect and the three sub-factors of anxiety sensitivity as mid-level factors was also tested upon PTSD symptom clusters. Results: Both the hierarchical Original and Anxiety Sensitivity Extended models fit the data well. Within both models, negative affect consistently showed significant direct effects upon the posttraumatic stress disorder symptom clusters. In the Original Model, anxiety sensitivity served as a significant mediator of negative affect for several symptom clusters, while intolerance of uncertainty was non-significant both as a direct effect and as a mediator of negative affect. In the Anxiety Sensitivity Extended Model, the cognitive concerns sub-factor of anxiety sensitivity served as a significant mediator of negative affect for several symptom clusters, while the social and physical concerns sub-factors did not have significant direct or mediating effects. Conclusions: This study demonstrates a transdiagnostic hierarchical model significantly explains the severity of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition posttraumatic stress disorder symptom constructs within a subclinical population. Negative affect and anxiety sensitivity can each be targeted with specific interventions, suggesting new avenues to augment current gold standard psychotherapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-455
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Anxiety sensitivity
  • Negative affect
  • PTSD
  • Transdiagnostic
  • Trauma

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