Validating the primary care posttraumatic stress disorder screen and the posttraumatic stress disorder checklist with soldiers returning from combat

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2008 Apr;76(2):272-81. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.76.2.272.


The purpose of the research was to assess the diagnostic efficiency of the Primary Care Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Screen (PC-PTSD) and the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL) as clinical screening tools for active duty soldiers recently returned from a combat deployment. A secondary goal was to examine the item-level characteristics of both the PC-PTSD and the PCL. A validation study conducted with a sample of 352 service members showed that both the PC-PTSD and PCL had good diagnostic efficiency. The overall diagnostic efficiency assessed by the area under the curve (AUC) was virtually the same for both the PC-PTSD and PCL. The most efficient cutoff values for the PC-PTSD were either 2 or 3 "yes" responses with the latter favoring specificity. For the PCL, the most efficient cutoff values were between 30 and 34, mirroring recommended PCL cutoff values from some studies in primary care settings. The examination of item characteristics suggested a 4-item PCL with an AUC virtually identical to that of the full PCL. Item analyses also identified that the most discriminate item in both scales pertained to symptoms of avoidance. Implications and limitations are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Combat Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Combat Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Personality Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results