Diagnostic accuracy of the Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5) within a civilian primary care sample

J Clin Psychol. 2022 Nov;78(11):2299-2308. doi: 10.1002/jclp.23405. Epub 2022 Jun 28.


Objective: This study aims to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of the Primary Care Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Screen for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fifth Edition (DSM-5) (PC-PTSD-5) as a screening tool for the identification of PTSD among a civilian sample receiving behavioral health treatment within a primary care setting. Validation within a civilian sample will increase the generalizability of the PC-PTSD-5 as a brief screening measure to identify PTSD within primary care practices.

Method: The present study is a retrospective review of data (N = 198) collected as part of a patient registry for an integrated behavioral health consultation service within a primary care clinic. The PC-PTSD-5 was administered as part of a standardized set of brief screening measures and a standard clinical interview. Diagnostic validation was accomplished via a consensus model between a board-certified family medicine physician and a licensed psychologist along with medical/psychology trainees.

Results: Fifty-two participants (26.26%) out of 198 who completed the PC-PTSD-5 were diagnosed with PTSD. The PC-PTSD-5 demonstrated excellent diagnostic accuracy (area under the curve = 0.933, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.901-0.965). A cutoff score of 4 maximized sensitivity (sensitivity% = 100) while maintaining acceptable specificity (specificity% = 85.2). This score also maximized efficiency (κ[0.5] = 0.77, SE = 0.05, 95% CI: 0.67-0.86) and maintained a good (≥0.60) quality index for specificity (κ[0] = 0.61).

Conclusion: The PC-PTSD-5 maintained strong diagnostic accuracy within a civilian primary care sample.

Keywords: PC-PTSD-5; PTSD diagnosis; diagnostic screener; posttraumatic stress disorder; primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Primary Health Care
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / therapy