Validation of the Primary Care Posttraumatic Stress Disorder screening questionnaire (PC-PTSD) in civilian substance use disorder patients

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2010 Sep;39(2):105-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2010.05.005. Epub 2010 Jul 3.


This study aimed to cross-validate and extend earlier findings regarding the diagnostic efficiency of the four-item Primary Care Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Screen (PC-PTSD) as a screening questionnaire for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among civilian patients with substance use disorder (SUD). The PC-PTSD was originally developed in a Veteran Affairs primary care setting (Prins, Ouimette, Kimerling, Cameron, Hugelshofer, Shaw-Hegwer, et al., 2004) and has been widely used in the U.S. army. The diagnostic efficiency of the screener was compared to those of an extended eight-item version of the PC-PTSD and the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale (PDS). The sample consisted of 142 participants with SUD and most of the participants (89%) were still using substances in the month preceding the assessment. Results showed a high sensitivity (.86) and moderate specificity (.57) for the PC-PTSD when using a cutoff score of 2. The diagnostic efficiency of the PC-PTSD was equivalent to the extended eight-item version and the 17-item PDS. Results suggest that the original PC-PTSD is a useful screening instrument for PTSD within a civilian SUD population. These findings have important clinical implications because screening for PTSD among patients with SUD is crucial to ascertain appropriate treatment allocation.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires