Alternative Title

PTSD and psychotic disorders

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


Post-traumatic stress disorder in adolescence-Diagnosis, Psychoses in adolescence-Diagnosis, Schizophrenia in adolescence-Diagnosis, Differential diagnosis, Dual diagnosis in adolescence, Hallucinations and illusions, PTSD or Post-traumatic stress disorder, Psychosis, Hallucinations, Flashbacks, Young adults, Adolescents


The present study investigated the diagnostic decision-making process of clinical social workers. The study sought to explore how they distinguish between psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, and post-traumatic stress symptoms, such as flashbacks, in emerging and young adults. One objective of this study was to understand clinician diagnostic choices in order to increase diagnostic accuracy with young adults who may be particularly vulnerable to first episode psychosis. Sample. The study’s sample included 105 licensed clinical social workers, who actively practiced in the United States. Methods. The study used an exploratory - descriptive design implemented through an online survey. The research instrument was administered via the Internet using a questionnaire following one of four case-vignettes designed specifically for this study. Chi-square analysis was used to compare findings across variables using .05 probability criterion level to evaluate significance of data. Findings. This investigation found that PTSD was significantly easier to diagnose than schizophrenia. The study also found that when a case vignette presented both trauma and psychotic symptoms or frank PTSD and schizophrenia diagnoses, the co-occurring disorders were significantly more difficult to diagnose than a PTSD and psychotic disorder alone. Clinicians working in inpatient settings were found to demonstrate more diagnostic accuracy when compared to those in outpatient settings. The implications of these findings for clinical social work practice, education, and future research is explored.




iv, 79 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 59-68)

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