In a recently published study in this journal that used a population‐based sample in the Republic of Ireland (Karatzias et al., 2020), we concluded that 17.7% of the sample met the diagnostic requirements for COVID‐19–related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Subsequently, Van Overmeire (2020) has raised concerns about the validity of our findings, arguing that simply experiencing the COVID‐19 pandemic is not sufficient to meet the trauma exposure criterion for a PTSD diagnosis and, consequently, our estimated PTSD prevalence figure was inflated. In this response, we provide (a) an explanation for why the COVID‐19 pandemic can be reasonably considered to be a traumatic event, (b) evidence that PTSD in response to the COVID‐19 pandemic is a meaningful construct, and (c) an argument for why our estimated prevalence rate is not unreasonably high.


This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Cite as

Hyland, P., Shevlin, M. & Karatzias, T. 2020, 'Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Meaningful in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic? A Response to Van Overmeire's Commentary on Karatzias et al. (2020)', Journal of Traumatic Stress, 33(5), pp. 866-868. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22592

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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