The network approach to posttraumatic stress disorder: a systematic review

Marianne Skogbrott Birkeland, Talya Greene, Tobias Raphael Spiller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: The empirical literature of network analysis studies of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) has grown rapidly over the last years. Objective: We aimed to assess the characteristics of these studies, and if possible, the most and least central symptoms and the strongest edges in the networks of PTSS. Method: The present systematic review, conducted in PsycInfo, Medline, and Web of Science, synthesizes findings from 20 cross-sectional PTSS network studies that were accepted for publication between January 2010 and November 2018 (PROSPERO ID: CRD42018112825). Results: Results indicated that the network studies investigated a broad range of samples and that most studies used similar analytic approaches including stability analysis. Only strength centrality was generally adequately stable. Amnesia was consistently reported to have lowest strength, while there was substantial heterogeneity regarding which nodes had highest strength centrality. The strongest edge weights were typically within each DSM-IV/DSM-5 PTSD symptom cluster. Conclusions: Hypothesis-driven studies are needed to determine whether the heterogeneity in networks resulted from differences in samples or whether they are the product of underlying methodological reasons.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1700614
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Network analysis
  • PTSD
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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