The validity of ICD-11 PTSD and complex PTSD in North Korean defectors using the International Trauma Questionnaire

Jiwon Baek, Kyoung A. Kim, Hokon Kim, Ocksim Kim, Minjeong Ko, Soo Hyun Kim, In Bae Sohn, Bo Kyung Shin, Woo Taek Jeon, Sang Hui Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The International Trauma Questionnaire (ITQ) is a self-report assessment focused on the core features of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). It is consistent with the organizing principles of the 11th revision to the WHO's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). Since the 1990s, the number of North Korean defectors (NKD) entering South Korea to escape human rights violations has been increasing rapidly, with 33,815 NKD settled by 2021. The South Korean government faces an important challenge in supporting NKD to successfully adapt and settle in South Korean society. NKD experience various traumatic events during the process of defecting and repatriation. Therefore, it is essential to understand the psychological disorders of NKD, especially PTSD and CPTSD. Objective: This study aimed to test the validity of the ITQ assessment and explore the differences in symptoms and quality of life between PTSD and CPTSD. Method: The study sample comprised 503 trauma-exposed NKD. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and latent class analysis (LCA) were used to evaluate the validity of ITQ. One-way analysis of variances and post-hoc analyses revealed the difference in the Depression and Somatic Symptoms Scale (DSSS) and WHOQOL-BREF results among PTSD and CPTSD symptom LCA classes. Results: The CFA and LCA results supported the ICD-11 conceptualization of PTSD and CPTSD in NKD. The CFA results confirmed that both the first- and second-order models were statistically fit, but for community-dwelling NKD the first-order model had better model fit than the second-order model. The LCA findings revealed a four-class model with ‘PTSD’, ‘CPTSD’, ‘DSO’, and ‘low symptom’ classes. Compared to the PTSD class, CPTSD class had higher levels of depression and somatic symptoms and a lower quality of life. Conclusion: This study provided evidence that ITQ is a valid tool to assess PTSD or CPTSD in community-dwelling NKD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2119012
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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