Relationship between symptom over-reporting and pre- and post-combat trauma history in veterans evaluated for PTSD

Daniel W. Smith, B. Christopher Frueh, Craig N. Sawchuk, Michael R. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We examined the prevalence of pre- and post-combat traumatic events in the histories of 129 combat veterans referred to be evaluated for PTSD and examined the impact of these non-combat traumatic events on self-reported psychiatric symptoms. Participants were consecutive referrals to a Veterans Affairs outpatient post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) clinic who completed structured interviews, self-report measures (e.g., Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2; MMPI-2), and a trauma history questionnaire as part of their routine clinical evaluations. Findings show that non-combat trauma was prevalent in this sample, with 65% (21% pre-combat) reporting physical assaults and 12% (11% pre-combat) reporting sexual assaults. Overall, history of sexual or physical assaults did not appear to be systematically related to reported symptom level. However, chi square analyses revealed a consistent over-representation of veterans who reported sexual trauma in the category suggestive of response exaggeration (i.e., MMPI-2 F-K validity index ≥ 13). Finally, a hierarchical regression equation predicting F-K scores was computed, but accounted for only 15.9% of the variance in F-K. Presence of sexual assault history was the only predictor associated with a more pronounced response set suggestive of exaggeration or deception. These findings tentatively indicate that if history of sexual or physical assault has an impact on symptom reporting in combat veterans evaluated for PTSD, it is of modest magnitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • PTSD
  • Self-report
  • Sexual assault
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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