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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Screen for Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms (SPTSS)


Screen for Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms (SPTSS)

Carlson, 2001


The SPTSS is a 17-item self-report measure that assesses DSM-IV symptoms of PTSD. Respondents rate items on an 11-point scale ranging from 0 ("never") to 10 ("always). It is recommended for screening for PTSD symptoms in clinical or research settings. The SPTSS is especially useful for clients with histories of multiple traumatic events or for clients whose trauma history is unknown as it does not key symptoms to any single traumatic event. The SPTSS yields a total score that is the average of the item scores. Item scores can be used to make a preliminary determination about whether client's symptoms meet DSM criteria for PTSD.

Sample Item

"I get very upset when something reminds me of something bad that happened to me." (Respondents are asked to rate frequency of the symptom over the past two weeks.)


A second version of the SPTSS is available with a more specific response format ranging from 0 (not at all) to 4 (more than once a day).


Carlson, E. (2001). Psychometric study of a brief screen for PTSD: Assessing the impact of multiple traumatic events. Assessment, 8, 431-441.

Additional Reviews

Norris and Hamblen (2004) (PDF) p. 83.

Norris, Fran H. & Hamblen, Jessica L. (2004). Standardized self-report measures of civilian trauma and PTSD. In J.P. Wilson, T.M. Keane & T. Martin (Eds.), Assessing psychological trauma and PTSD (pp. 63-102). New York: Guilford Press. PILOTS ID 18638

To Obtain Scale

Eve Carlson, PhD
National Center for PTSD (334-PTSD)
795 Willow Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025

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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