OBJECTIVE: Using the framework of IDC-11, complex post-traumatic stress disorder will be diagnosed using the core criteria of a post-traumatic stress disorder and the presence of at least one symptom from the following three domains: symptoms of emotional dysregulation, negative self-concept, and problems in interpersonal relationships. In the literature, these symptoms are discussed as a common reason for seeking treatment. The symptoms can influence and impair the quality of life. This article describes a mixed methods study with a sequential exploratory design. The aim is to describe specific patient characteristics, levels of symptom burden and perspectives of adult inpatients and to describe the experiences, views and needs of patients' relatives. The study will also investigate facilitators of and barriers to symptom management. The research will be conducted in four phases. The first phase will assess patients' symptom burdens. The second phase will use semi-structured interviews to explore attitudes to symptom management and perceptions of patients and their relatives. The third phase will statistically explore hypotheses generated after the qualitative interviews. The fourth phase will mix the quantitative and qualitative results and interpret critically.
RESULTS: The present study will add new results to the growing literature on complex post-traumatic stress disorder. These results could serve as the basis for further research into the development of interventions to improve symptom management. Trial registration Ethical approval has been obtained from the Swiss cantonal ethic commission (Nr. 201500096). This research was also registered to the World Health Organization Clinical Trials Search Portal through the German Clinical Trial Register, Trial DRKS00012268 (21/04/2017).