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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Brief Trauma Questionnaire (BTQ)


Brief Trauma Questionnaire (BTQ)

Paula P. Schnurr, PhD; Melanie J. Vielhauer, PhD; & Marianne N. Findler, PhD


The Brief Trauma Questionnaire (BTQ) is a 10-item self-report questionnaire derived from the Brief Trauma Interview (BTI, Schnurr, et al., 1995). (Information about the reliability and validity of the BTI is provided in Schnurr, et al., 2002.)

The BTQ was originally designed to assess traumatic exposure according to DSM-IV but specifically asked only about Criterion A.1 (life threat/serious injury) because of the difficulty of accurately assessing A.2 (subjective response) in a brief self-report format. Criterion A.2 has been eliminated from the PTSD diagnostic criteria in DSM-5, so the BTQ provides a complete assessment of Criterion A.


The questionnaire may be used to determine whether an individual has had an event that meets the A Criterion, or to determine the different types of Criterion A events an individual has experienced. In either case, exposure to an event should be scored as positive if a respondent says "yes" to either:

  • life threat or serious injury for events 1-3 and 5-7;
  • life threat for event 4;
  • serious injury for event 8, or;
  • "Has this ever happened to you?" for events 9 and 10.


Koenen, K.C., De Vivo, I., Rich‐Edwards, J., Smoller, J.W., Wright, R.J., & Purcell, S.M. (2009). Protocol for investigating genetic determinants of posttraumatic stress disorder in women from the Nurses' Health Study II. BMC Psychiatry, 9 (article 29).

Kubzansky, L.D., Bordelois, P., Jun, H.J., Roberts, A.L., Cerda, M., Bluestone, N., & Koenen, K.C. (2014). The weight of traumatic stress. A prospective study of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and weight status in women. JAMA Psychiatry, 71, 44-51.

Lancaster, S.L., Melka, S.E., & Rodriguez, B.F. (2009). A factor analytic comparison of five models of PTSD symptoms. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23, 269-274.

Morgan, C.A., III, Doran, A.P., Steffians, G., Hazlett, G.,& Southwick, S. (2006). Stress‐induced deficits in working memory and visuo‐constructive abilites in special operations soldiers. Biological Psychiatry, 60, 722-729.

Morgan, C.A., III, Hazlett, G., Wang, S., Richardson, E.G., Jr., Schnurr, P.P., & Southwick, S.M. (2001). Symptoms of dissociation in humans experiencing acute, uncontrollable stress: A prospective investigation. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158, 1239-1247.

Morgan, C.A., III, Rasmusson, A.M., Winters, B., Hauger, R.L., Morgan, J., Hazlett, G., & Southwick, S.M. (2006). Trauma exposure rather than posttraumatic stress disorder is associated with reduced baseline plasma neuropeptide‐Y levels. Biological Psychiatry, 54, 1087-1091.

Schnurr, P.P., Spiro, A. III, Vielhauer, M.J., Findler, M.N., & Hamblen, J.L. (2002). Trauma in the lives of older men: Findings from the Normative Aging Study. Journal of Clinical Geropsychology, 8, 175-187.

Whealin, J.M., Batzer, W.B., Morgan, C.A. III, Schnurr, P.P., & Friedman, M.J. (2007). Cohesion, burnout, and past trauma in Tri‐Service medical and support personnel. Military Medicine, 172, 266-272.

To Obtain Scale

Download the Brief Trauma Questionnaire (PDF).

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 PILOTS database is the largest electronic index to the world's literature on traumatic stress.

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