Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Complex Trauma and Strengths Questionnaire: psychometric evaluation

Graham Gee, Tess Bright, Amy Morgan, Carlie Atkinson, Shawana Andrews, Yvonne Clark, Karen Glover, Tanja Hirvonen, Elise Davis, Kimberley A. Jones, Rachel Reilly, Fiona Mensah, Madelyne Hudson-Buhagiar, Shannon K. Bennetts, Helen Herrman, Helen Milroy, Andrew Mackinnon, Catherine Chamberlain

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Objective: Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (complex trauma) describes a cluster of symptoms frequently associated with prolonged exposure to inescapable threats or abuse. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia impacted by complex trauma, there may be compounding factors, such as experiences of historical trauma, loss and socio-economic deprivation stemming from colonisation. However, there is no culturally appropriate tool to assess complex trauma. This paper presents the psychometric evaluation of a preliminary version Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Complex Trauma and Strengths Questionnaire (ACTSQ). Methods: Following 2 years of rigorous Aboriginal-led co-design, participants were recruited through community networks and partner health services in South Australia, Victoria, and Northern Territory (October 2020–May 2022). A trained interviewer contacted Aboriginal (n = 109) and Torres Strait Islander (n = 1) parents aged >16 years by phone to complete the ACTSQ. Underlying domain structures were investigated with exploratory factor analysis and reviewed by experts to refine. Reliability and inter-rater reliability were assessed using McDonald’s Omega and Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC). Results: Forty-four items on five factors were retained. Factors were labelled complex trauma symptoms (16 items), grief, loss and disconnection (6 items), support and relationships (9 items), sense of self and strengths (7 items), and Cultural connections and resources (6 items). There were moderate correlations between factors, with the exception of factor 5. Omega was >0.75 for all factors. The inter-rater reliability for each factor was fair to good (ICC 0.5–0.7). Conclusions: This study conducted a comprehensive psychometric validation that provides initial evidence towards the cultural validity of the ACTSQ to support assessment of complex trauma and strengths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Future studies are required to replicate and further evaluate the psychometric properties of the ACTSQ using larger samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2335917
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2024


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • complex post-traumatic stress disorder
  • complex trauma
  • exploratory factor analysis
  • Indigenous
  • parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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