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Despite psychometric rationale to include multiple informants, psychological assessment typically involves data collected from the patient (target) only, particularly with regard to depressive and anxious symptomatology. This study addressed this gap in the literature by assessing convergence between targets and their close friends (informants) in an ethnically diverse sample of young adults. One hundred and thirty-nine friendship dyads completed a packet of questionnaires including different versions administered to the targets and informants, with targets completing the standard questionnaire battery focused on their own symptoms and informants completing questionnaires on their view of the target participants’ symptoms, rather than their own characteristics. Measures were included to assess a wide range of symptomatology, including behavioral, cognitive, and physiological symptoms of anxiety and depression. The target-informant correlations were largely significant and of small-to-medium magnitude. In addition, target-informant agreement was higher in more visible symptoms (e.g., behavioral) than in less visible symptoms (e.g., physiological) of anxiety and depression. Interestingly, level of closeness in the relationship did not influence the magnitude of correlations. Implications for future research and integration into clinical assessment practices are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4114076  PMID: 25089072
2.  National Estimates of Exposure to Traumatic Events and PTSD Prevalence Using DSM-IV and DSM-5 Criteria 
Journal of traumatic stress  2013;26(5):537-547.
Prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) defined according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual fifth edition (DSM-5; 2013) and fourth edition (DSM-IV; 1994) was compared in a national sample of U.S. adults (N = 2,953) recruited from an online panel. Exposure to traumatic events, PTSD symptoms, and functional impairment were assessed online using a highly structured, self-administered survey. Traumatic event exposure using DSM-5 criteria was high (89.7%), and exposure to multiple traumatic event types was the norm. PTSD caseness was determined using Same Event (i.e., all symptom criteria met to the same event type) and Composite Event (i.e., symptom criteria met to a combination of event types) definitions. Lifetime, past-12-month, and past 6-month PTSD prevalence using the Same Event definition for DSM-5 was 8.3%, 4.7%, and 3.8% respectively. All 6 DSM-5 prevalence estimates were slightly lower than their DSM-IV counterparts, although only 2 of these differences were statistically significant. DSM-5 PTSD prevalence was higher among women than among men, and prevalence increased with greater traumatic event exposure. Major reasons individuals met DSM-IV criteria, but not DSM-5 criteria were the exclusion of nonaccidental, nonviolent deaths from Criterion A, and the new requirement of at least 1 active avoidance symptom.
PMCID: PMC4096796  PMID: 24151000
3.  Prevalence and features of generalized anxiety disorder in Department of Veteran Affairs primary care settings 
Psychiatry research  2013;209(2):173-179.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a highly prevalent distressing condition for individuals in both community and community primary care settings. However, despite the high prevalence of GAD identified in epidemiological studies, little is known about GAD and its related symptoms and impairments in veteran populations. The present study investigated the prevalence, comorbidity, physical and mental health impairment, and healthcare utilization of veteran participants with GAD, as well as comparing symptoms of GAD and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans (N = 884) participated in a cross-sectional investigation in primary care clinics in four Veteran Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs) and completed diagnostic interviews and self-report questionnaires; a chart review was conducted to assess their VAMC healthcare utilization. A large number of participants (12%) met diagnostic criteria for GAD, reporting significantly worse emotional health, pain, and general health, in addition to increased mental healthcare utilization and antidepressant medications. In addition, GAD was found in 40% of participants with PTSD, resulting in more severe symptoms and impairment than in patients with GAD alone. These findings provide evidence of high prevalence and severe impairment associated with GAD in veterans and highlight the need for improved recognition, assessment, and treatments for GAD.
PMCID: PMC4026032  PMID: 23659756
posttraumatic stress disorder; veterans; comorbidity; healthcare utilization
4.  Behavioral Activation and Therapeutic Exposure: An Investigation of Relative Symptom Changes in PTSD and Depression During the Course of Integrated Behavioral Activation, Situational Exposure, and Imaginal Exposure Techniques 
Behavior modification  2012;36(4):580-599.
Effectiveness of exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be adversely influenced by comorbid disorders. The present study investigated behavioral activation and therapeutic exposure (BA-TE), a new integrated treatment designed specifically for comorbid symptoms of PTSD and depression. Combat veterans with PTSD (N = 117) completed eight sessions of BA-TE that included two phases of treatment: (a) behavioral activation (BA) in which some activities involved situational exposures and (b) BA and situational exposures with imaginal exposures. Findings supported improvements in symptoms of PTSD, and overlapping symptoms of PTSD and depression, but not in nonoverlapping symptoms of depression. The findings also demonstrated a relatively consistent rate of change in PTSD and depression symptoms during BA-TE, despite the addition of imaginal exposures midway through the treatment. Together, these findings provide preliminary support for BA-TE as a treatment for PTSD and depression, and highlight the utility of transdiagnostic treatments in addressing comorbidity and symptom overlap.
PMCID: PMC3415599  PMID: 22679240
behavioral activation and therapeutic exposure; BA-TE; depression; PTSD; comorbidity; transdiagnostic
Behavioural pharmacology  2008;19(5-6):641-649.
Negative mood increases smoking reinforcement and risk of relapse. We explored associations of gene variants in the dopamine, opioid, and serotonin pathways with smoking reward (“liking”) and reinforcement (latency to first puff, total puffs) as a function of negative mood and expected vs. actual nicotine content of the cigarette. Smokers of European ancestry (n=72) were randomized to one of four groups in a 2 × 2 balanced-placebo design, corresponding to manipulation of actual (0.6 mg vs. 0.05 mg) and expected (told nicotine, told denicotinized) nicotine “dose” in cigarettes during each of two sessions (negative vs. positive mood induction). Following mood induction and expectancy instructions, they sampled and rated the assigned cigarette, and then smoked additional cigarettes ad lib during continued mood induction. The increase in smoking amount due to negative mood was associated with: DRD2 C957T (CC>TT or CT), SLC6A3 (presence of 9 repeat > absence of 9), and among those given a nicotine cigarette, DRD4 (presence of 7 repeat > absence of 7) and DRD2/ANKK1 TaqIA (TT or CT > CC). SLC6A3 and DRD2/ANKK1 TaqIA were also associated with smoking reward and smoking latency. OPRM1 (AA > AG or GG) was associated with smoking reward, but SLC6A4 VNTR was unrelated to any of these measures. These results warrant replication but provide the first evidence for genetic associations with the acute increase in smoking reward and reinforcement due to negative mood.
PMCID: PMC2717609  PMID: 18690118
smoking reward; reinforcement; mood; genetics; dopamine

Results 1-5 (5)