College of Psychology Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)


Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Ralph E. Cash

Second Advisor

John E. Lewis

Third Advisor

Timothy Scala


posttraumatic stress, torture survivors


The central aim of the current study is to examine structural models of posttraumatic stress symptoms, as measured by the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire-Revised (HTQ-R; Mollica et al., 1992; Mollica, McDonald, Massagli, & Silove, 2004). Participants were international torture survivors who sought psychological treatment from a torture rehabilitation center in the United States. It was hypothesized that the factor structure of posttraumatic stress reactions among this heterogeneous sample of torture survivors would be consistent with the aroused intrusion model (Rasmussen, Smith, & Keller, 2007) rather than the dysphoria model (Simms, Watson, & Doebbelling, 2002). In order to evaluate model superiority, confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) were conducted. It was also hypothesized that avoidance and numbing are two discrete factors in the aroused intrusion model. To determine whether these two constructs are distinct, convergent and discriminant validity were examined. Lastly, it was hypothesized that there is no difference in the means of the latent variable emotional numbing across culture. A one-factor ANOVA was conducted to compare means of the numbing construct between ethnic groups. The findings indicate that the dysphoria model was marginally more preferential than the aroused intrusion model (Rasmussen, Smith, and Keller, 2007; Simms, Watson, & Doebbeling, 2002). The results of a post hoc CFA support previous research, which suggests that a four-factor structure is preferred over the previously accepted three-factor model (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The findings also suggest that emotional numbing and avoidance are two separate factors. Lastly, the ANOVA resulted in the failure to reject the null hypothesis. Future research is needed to establish model superiority for posttraumatic stress reactions among torture survivors and the generalizability of the model across cultures.

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