Attention A T users. To access the menus on this page please perform the following steps. 1. Please switch auto forms mode to off. 2. Hit enter to expand a main menu option (Health, Benefits, etc). 3. To enter and activate the submenu links, hit the down arrow. You will now be able to tab or arrow up or down through the submenu options to access/activate the submenu links.

PTSD: National Center for PTSD


Quick Links

Veterans Crisis Line Badge
My healthevet badge
EBenefits Badge

Screen for Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms (SPTSS)



This section is for Researchers, Providers, & Helpers

This section is for Researchers, Providers, and Helpers

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: We provide information on a variety of measures assessing trauma and PTSD. These measures are intended for use by qualified mental health professionals and researchers. Measures authored by National Center staff are available as direct downloads or by request. Measures developed outside of the National Center can be requested via contact information available on the information page for the specific measure.

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

Share this page

Search Pilots

Search PILOTS*, the largest citation database on PTSD.
What is PILOTS?

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:
Also see: VA Mental Health