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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Screen for Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms (SPTSS) for DSM-IV

Screen for Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms (SPTSS) for DSM-IV

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. PTSDpubs ID 18638

To Obtain Scale

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

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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.

PTSD Information Voice Mail: (802) 296-6300
Also see: VA Mental Health