The Neuropsychological Correlates of PTSD Symptoms in Central and West African Torture Survivors

Christina J Supelena, Fordham University


Although posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been associated with neuropsychological impairments, this relationship has not been studied in refugee populations residing in the United States. The current study examined the impact of overall PTSD symptom severity on neuropsychological functioning in 18 Central and West African torture survivors living in the U.S., and identified the DSM-IV PTSD symptom clusters most strongly associated with neuropsychological outcomes. Results revealed that overall PTSD symptom severity, rated using the Trauma Symptom Inventory-II, was negatively correlated with verbal retention score on the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test - Revised (HVLT-R; r = -.51 , p = .03). However, when depression symptom severity was controlled for, the difference was no longer significant. Large raw score differences were observed between individuals who endorsed above-average levels of PTSD symptoms (M= 73.71, SD =7.56) and those who endorsed below-average-toaverage PTSD symptoms (M = 90.64, SD =15.28); t( 16) = 2.85, p = . 01. O f the PTSD symptom clusters and compared to depressive symptom severity, Cluster D (hyperarousal) was the most predictive of HVLT-R retention score, (3 = -1.94, t{T6) = '■y -2.49,p = .02; R = .28. No differences were found on neuropsychological measures of visual learning/memory, executive function, attention, psychomotor speed, or language. Determining the impact of PTSD on cognitive outcomes in refugee torture-survivors will inform better understanding of the treatment needs of this population.

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Recommended Citation

Supelena, Christina J, "The Neuropsychological Correlates of PTSD Symptoms in Central and West African Torture Survivors" (2013). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI13853357.