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Factor structure and factorial invariance of the PTSD checklist for DSM-5 in public safety personnel: Results from a large and diverse sample.

OBJECTIVE: Public safety personnel (PSP; e.g., correctional workers, firefighters, paramedics, and police officers) are frequently exposed to potentially psychologically traumatic events (PPTEs) and report posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) difficulties more frequently than the general population. The PTSD checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) is a commonly used measure to screen PSP for PTSD. A single previous study assessed PCL-5 factorial invariance among PSP but used a small homogenous sample. The current study evaluated factorial invariance with a large ( n = 5,855) and diverse PSP sample.

METHOD: Multigroup confirmatory factor analyses (mCFAs; n = 98) were conducted using six competing factor models of the PCL-5 across seven PSP sectors, five age groups, and two gender groups.

RESULTS: The seven-factor hybrid model of PTSD (i.e., reexperiencing, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, hyperarousal, intrusion, emotional numbing, dysphoria, dysphoric arousal, anxious arousal, anhedonia, negative affect) produced consistently superior fit across all sectors assessed and produced marginally better absolute values than the six-factor anhedonia model, supporting PCL-5 factorial invariance among PSP.

CONCLUSIONS: The current study is the first to use a large and diverse PSP sample to assess PCL-5 factorial invariance. The results support the PCL-5 as invariant across PSP sectors, age groups, and men and women. Consistent with other studies, the seven-factor hybrid model of PTSD produced the best fit, followed closely by the six-factor anhedonia model. Future research could use structured clinical interviews to further investigate the factorial structure and invariance of PTSD symptoms among PSPs. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

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