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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Primary Care PTSD Screen (PC-PTSD)

 

Professional

This section is for Researchers, Providers, & Helpers

This section is for Researchers, Providers, and Helpers

Primary Care PTSD Screen (PC-PTSD)

Description

The Primary Care PTSD Screen (PC-PTSD) is a 4-item screen that was designed for use in primary care and other medical settings, and is currently used to screen for PTSD in Veterans using VA health care. The screen includes an introductory sentence to cue respondents to traumatic events. The screen does not include a list of potentially traumatic events.

A DSM-5 revised version of the PC-PTSD has been developed and is undergoing validation. The revised PC-PTSD will be available here when validated.

Administration and Scoring

The authors suggest that in most circumstances the results of the PC-PTSD should be considered "positive" if a patient answers "yes" to any three items. Those screening positive should then be assessed with a structured interview for PTSD.

Scale

Instructions

In your life, have you ever had any experience that was so frightening, horrible, or upsetting that, in the past month, you:

  1. Have had nightmares about it or thought about it when you did not want to?
    YES / NO
  2. Tried hard not to think about it or went out of your way to avoid situations that reminded you of it?
    YES / NO
  3. Were constantly on guard, watchful, or easily startled?
    YES / NO
  4. Felt numb or detached from others, activities, or your surroundings?
    YES / NO

Current research suggests that the results of the PC-PTSD should be considered "positive" if a patient answers "yes" to any three items.

References

Prins, A., Ouimette, P., Kimerling, R., Cameron, R. P., Hugelshofer, D. S., Shaw-Hegwer, J., Thrailkill, A., Gusman, F.D., Sheikh, J. I. (2003). The Primary Care PTSD Screen (PC-PTSD): Development and operating characteristics (PDF). Primary Care Psychiatry, 9, 9-14. doi: 10.1185/135525703125002360 PILOTS ID: 26676

Prins, A., Ouimette, P., Kimerling, R., Cameron, R. P., Hugelshofer, D. S., Shaw-Hegwer, J., Thrailkill, A., Gusman, F.D., Sheikh, J. I. (2004). The Primary Care PTSD Screen (PC-PTSD): Corrigendum (PDF). Primary Care Psychiatry, 9, 151.

Additional Reviews

Orsillo (2001) (PDF) p. 299

Orsillo, S. 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

Norris and Hamblen (2004) (PDF) p. 71

Norris, F. H. & Hamblen, J. 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

This measure was created by staff at VA's National Center for PTSD.

Download the Primary Care PTSD Screen:

Are you using this measure with U.S. Veterans or Servicemembers?

Our PTSD Consultation Program can answer administration or scoring questions: PTSDconsult@va.gov or 866-948-7880.

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

PTSD Information Voice Mail:
(802) 296-6300
Contact Us: ncptsd@va.gov
Also see: VA Mental Health

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