A meta-analysis of the relationship between symptom severity of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and executive function

Fu L. Woon, Thomas J. Farrer, Colin R. Braman, Jennifer K. Mabey, Dawson W. Hedges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Introduction: Some studies of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) find executive dysfunction, whereas others do not. We meta-analytically examined the association between executive function and PTSD and used meta-regression to examine the potential moderating effect of PTSD severity on executive function. Methods: We conducted a meta-analysis according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. We identified published peer-reviewed articles containing measures of executive function and PTSD symptom severity in subjects with PTSD compared to trauma-unexposed controls or trauma-exposed controls without PTSD, or both. We calculated an effect size for each study containing at least one measure of executive function and PTSD symptom severity. Results: PTSD subjects for whom the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) score was available had worse executive function compared to both trauma-unexposed controls (g = 0.464, p <.001) and to trauma-exposed controls without PTSD (g = 0.414, p =.001), as did PTSD subjects for whom the Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related PTSD (M-PTSD) score was available (g = 0.390, p <.001). Neither CAPS nor M-PTSD scores significantly moderated the effect size of executive function. Conclusions: PTSD is associated with executive dysfunction, but this association was not moderated by PTSD symptom severity, suggesting that once PTSD occurs, executive dysfunction may occur regardless of PTSD severity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2 2017



  • executive function
  • meta-analysis
  • neuropsychology
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • trauma severity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this