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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Distressing Events Questionnaire (DEQ)


Distressing Events Questionnaire (DEQ)

Kubany, Leisen, Kaplan, & Kelly, 2000


The DEQ (recently renamed the "PTSD Screening and Diagnostic Scale; PSDS") is a 38-item, 4-part self-report inventory that assesses the DSM-IV criteria for PTSD.

In Part 1, respondents are asked to indicate an event that caused them the most distress and to rate, in the past month, the degree to which they experienced each of 17 symptoms that correspond to the DSM-IV symptoms of PTSD and 3 associated features (i.e., guilt, anger, and grief). Items are rated on a 5-point scale ranging from 0 (absent or did not occur) to 4 (present to an extreme or severe degree).

In Part 2, respondents are asked whether they have experienced any symptom for longer than 30 days and, if so, how long, and their age or date of onset.

In Part 3 items assess Criterion A2 of PTSD (i.e., intense fear, helplessness, and horror) using a yes/no format. In Part 4, items inquire about specific areas of functioning (such as social life and work) and satisfaction with life, and are rated on a 5-point scale ranging from 0 (no negative effects) to 4 (negative effects to an extreme or severe degree).

The DEQ can be used to make a preliminary diagnosis of PTSD either by using a cutoff score of symptom severity (sum of 17 items that correspond to DSM-IV symptoms) or using DSM-IV symptom criteria. All items are written at an 8th-grade reading level.

Sample Item

Bad dreams or nightmares about the event(s)? (Respondents are asked to rate the degree to which they experienced the symptom in the past month.)


Newest version renamed the PTSD Screening and Diagnostic Scale (PSDS).


Kubany, E. S, Leisen, M. B., Kaplan, A. S, & Kelly, M. P. (2000). Validation of a brief measure of posttraumatic stress disorder: the Distressing Event Questionnaire (DEQ). Psychological Assessment, 12, 197-209.

Additional Reviews

Orsillo (2001) (PDF) p. 265.

Orsillo, Susan M. (2001). Measures for acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. In M.M. Antony & S.M. Orsillo (Eds.), Practitioner's guide to empirically based measures of anxiety (pp. 255-307). New York: KluwerAcademic/Plenum. PILOTS ID 24368

To Obtain Scale

Edward Kubany, PhD, ABPP
4211 Waialae Ave, #206
Honolulu, HI 9681

Measure availability: Information on measures is available to everyone. However, the assessment tools themselves can only be distributed to qualified mental health professionals and researchers. We maintain measures developed by affiliated staff of the National Center for PTSD.

Date this content was last updated is at the bottom of the page.

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Where to Get Help for PTSD

Using the PILOTS database for Assessment Information
The PILOTS database is the largest electronic index to the world's literature on traumatic stress.

The National Center for PTSD does not provide direct clinical care, individual referrals or benefits information.

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