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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for Children and Adolescents (CAPS-CA)


Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for Children and Adolescents (CAPS-CA)

Nader, 1996


The CAPS-CA is a 33-item clinician-administered PTSD scale for youths aged 8 to 18 years. It is a modified version of the CAPS. Items were modified to make them age appropriate and picture response options were added. Practice questions help familiarize children with the assessment. The Life Events Checklist is used to identify traumatic events.

Like the CAPS, the CAPS-CA measures the frequency and intensity of symptoms associated with the 17 DSM-IV PTSD symptoms, as well as the impact of those symptoms on such aspects of functioning as overall distress, coping skills, and impairment. In addition to current and liferime dignoses, items assess overall severity, validity of ratings, associated symptoms, and coping strategies.

Items are scored on 5-point frequency (e.g., from 0 = "None of the Time" to 4 = "Most of the Time") and 5 point intensity rating scales (e.g., from 0 = "Not a Problem" to 4 = "A Big Problem, I Have to Stop What I Am Doing") for the past month.

Sample Item: B2:

Recurrent distressing dreams of the event


Did you have dreams about (EVENT)?
IF YES: Can you tell me about the dreams? [ASK THE CHILD TO DESCRIBE BOTH GOOD AND BAD DREAMS] Did you have dreams like this before (EVENT)? [IF YES, ASK:] (How much of the time did you have dreams like that before [EVENT]?)

In the last month did you have any bad dreams?
IF YES: Can you tell me more about the dreams? Did you have dreams like this before (EVENT)? [IF YES, ASK:] (How much of the time did you have dreams like that before [EVENT]?)

How much of the time did you have dreams like that in the past month/ (LIFETIME WORST MONTH)?

0 None of the time
1 Little of the time, once or twice
2 Some of the time, once or twice a week
3 Much of the time, several times a week
4 Most of the time, daily or almost every day


In this past month / (LIFETIME WORST MONTH), how much did the bad dreams bother you? Did they make you wake up? [IF YES, ASK:] (What were you doing when you woke up? How did you feel? When you woke up, were you crying, yelling, sad, or scared? Could you go back to sleep after your dreams? Were you out of bed?)

0 Not at all
1 A little, mild minimal distress, may not have awoken
2 Some, moderate, awoke in distress but readily returned to sleep
3 A lot, severe, considerable distress, difficulty returning to sleep
4 A whole lot, extreme, incapacitating distress, did not return to sleep


The CAPS-CA was based on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale developed for use with adults.


Nader, K., Kriegler, J.A., Blake, D.D., Pynoos, R.S., Newman, E., & Weathers, F.W. (1996). Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale, Child and Adolescent Version. White River Junction, VT: National Center for PTSD

Additional Reviews

Ohan, J. L., Myers, K., Collett, B. R. (2002). Ten-year review of rating scales. IV: scales assessing trauma and its effects. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 41: 1401-22

Nader, K. O. (2004). Assessing traumatic experiences in children and adolescents: Self-reports of DSM PTSD Criteria B-D symptoms. In J. Wilson & T. Keane (Eds.), Assessing psychological trauma and PTSD, 2nd ed. (pp. 513-537). New York: Guilford Press.

CAPS Training

To learn about training to give a CAPS assessment, see CAPS Training Information.

To Obtain Scale

This measure was created by staff at the VA National Center for PTSD. To obtain this scale complete the online request form.

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.

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