Civilian PTSD scales: relationships with trait characteristics and everyday distress

Assessment. 2005 Jun;12(2):220-30. doi: 10.1177/1073191104273130.


Strong associations between civilian posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) scales and measures of general psychological distress suggest that the scales are nonspecific to PTSD. Three common PTSD scales were administered to 122 undergraduates who had experienced an emotionally salient, nontraumatic event: a college examination. Results indicated that normal levels of anxiety associated with the examination were positively correlated with scores on the Impact of Event Scale-Revised, Revised Civilian Mississippi Scale, and PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version. Multiple regression analyses indicated that substantial variance in the PTSD scales was accounted for by trait characteristics such as negative and positive affectivity and affect intensity (R2 .29 to .53). Negative affectivity correlated as highly with PTSD measures (r = .46 to .71) as those measures correlated with each other (r = .48 to .65). A high proportion of participants exceeded clinical cutoffs on these measures. The findings suggest that these PTSD scales may be overly sensitive to nontraumatic stressors such as everyday distress and trait characteristics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Educational Measurement
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Universities