The pediatric emotional distress scale: a brief screening measure for young children exposed to traumatic events

J Clin Child Psychol. 1999 Mar;28(1):70-81. doi: 10.1207/s15374424jccp2801_6.


Introduced the Pediatric Emotional Distress Scale (PEDS), which was developed to quickly assess behaviors identified in empirical and theoretical literature as significantly elevated in children after experiencing traumatic events. The 21-item parent-report rating scale includes 17 general behavior items and 4 trauma-specific items. Factor analyses on the 17 items, with 475 two- to ten-year-olds (traumatic event exposure and nontraumatic event exposure), yielded 3 reliable factors labeled Anxious/Withdrawn, Fearful, and Acting Out. Factor and total scores were shown to have good internal consistency, and both test-retest and interrater reliability were at acceptable levels. Discriminant analyses demonstrated the PEDS could distinguish traumatic event exposure and nonexposure groups, although maternal education should be a significant consideration in interpretation. Future research with diverse populations who have documented trauma is needed to enhance the utility of the full PEDS scale.

MeSH terms

  • Acting Out
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child, Preschool
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / standards*
  • Psychometrics / methods
  • Psychometrics / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Social Perception
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Survivors / psychology