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Psychol Assess. 2014 Sep;26(3):717-29. doi: 10.1037/pas0000002. Epub 2014 Apr 28.

Childhood Trauma Questionnaire: factor structure, measurement invariance, and validity across emotional disorders.

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Institute of Psychology, Leiden University.
Department of Psychiatry, Leiden University Medical Center.
Department of Psychiatry, Leiden University.
Department of Clinical Psychological Sciences, Maastricht University.


To study the psychometric properties of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire-Short Form (CTQ-SF), we determined its dimensional structure, measurement invariance across presence of emotional disorders, the association of the CTQ-SF with an analogous interview-based measure (CTI) across presence of emotional disorders, and the incremental value of combining both instruments in determining associations with severity of psychopathology. The sample included 2,308 adults, ages 18-65, consisting of unaffected controls and chronically affected and intermittently affected persons with an emotional disorder at Time 0 (T0) or 4 years later at T4. Childhood maltreatment was measured at T0 with an interview and at T4 with the CTQ-SF. At each wave, patients were assessed for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., or DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994)-based emotional disorders (Composite Interview Diagnostic Instrument) and symptom severity (Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Fear Questionnaire). Besides the correlated original 5-factor solution, an indirect higher order and direct bifactorial model also showed a good fit to the data. The 5-factor solution proved to be invariant across disordered-control comparison groups. The CTQ-SF was moderately associated with the CTI, and this association was not attenuated by disorder status. The CTQ-SF was more sensitive in detecting emotional abuse and emotional neglect than the CTI. Combined CTQ-SF/CTI factor scores showed a higher association with severity of psychopathology. We conclude that although the original 5-factor model fits the data well, results of the hierarchical analyses suggest that the total CTQ scale adequately captures a broad dimension of childhood maltreatment. A 2-step measurement approach in the assessment of childhood trauma is recommended in which screening by a self-report questionnaire is followed by a (semi-)structured diagnostic interview.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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