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

Menu
Menu

Quick Links

Veterans Crisis Line Badge
My healthevet badge
EBenefits Badge
 

Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5)

Share this page

Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5)

Description

The Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5) is a 5-item screen that was designed for use in primary care settings. The measure begins with an item designed to assess whether the respondent has had any exposure to traumatic events. If a respondent denies exposure, the PC-PTSD-5 is complete with a score of 0. However, if a respondent indicates that they have experienced a traumatic event over the course of their life, the respondent is instructed to respond to five additional yes/no questions about how that trauma exposure has affected them over the past month.

The PC-PTSD-5 was designed to identify respondents with probable PTSD. Those screening positive require further assessment, preferably with a structured interview such as the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5). Administration of a clinical interview is not always possible due to time and personnel requirements. In these cases, it is recommended that additional assessment is conducted using a validated self-report measure. Specifically, the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) is a psychometrically sound self-report questionnaire that can be used for this purpose.

Changes from Previous PC-PTSD for DSM-IV

Several important revisions were made to the PC-PTSD in updating it for DSM-5:

  • PC-PTSD asked individuals to respond to questions about DSM-IV PTSD symptoms in reference to an experience that was "frightening, horrible, or upsetting," which could lead respondents to refer to events that, while stressful, were not considered Criterion A traumas (e.g., divorce). To avoid this, the PC-PTSD-5 asks respondents whether they have experienced prior trauma(s), and provides examples of events that qualify (e.g., sexual assault, war). If respondents have not been exposed to any traumatic events, they do not complete the remainder of the PC-PTSD-5. If they do endorse prior trauma(s), they respond to questions about DSM-5 PTSD symptoms related to those trauma(s).
  • PC-PTSD included 4 questions about DSM-IV PTSD symptoms, whereas the PC-PTSD-5 added a 5th item to assess whether the respondent has experienced guilt and/or a distorted sense of blame regarding the trauma(s). This additional item is consistent with more up-to-date knowledge about the PTSD diagnosis as described in DSM-5.

Administration and Scoring

Preliminary results from validation studies suggest that a cut-point of 3 on the PC-PTSD-5 (e.g., respondent answers "yes" to any 3 of 5 questions about how the traumatic event(s) have affected them over the past month) is optimally sensitive to probable PTSD. Optimizing sensitivity minimizes false negative screen results. Using a cut-point of 4 is considered optimally efficient. Optimizing efficiency balances false positive and false negative results. As additional research findings on the PC-PTSD-5 are published, updated recommendations for cut-point scores as well as psychometric data will be made available.

Scale

Sometimes things happen to people that are unusually or especially frightening, horrible, or traumatic. For example:

  • a serious accident or fire
  • a physical or sexual assault or abuse
  • an earthquake or flood
  • a war
  • seeing someone be killed or seriously injured
  • having a loved one die through homicide or suicide.

Have you ever experienced this kind of event?
YES / NO

If no, screen total = 0. Please stop here.

If yes, please answer the questions below.

In the past month, have you...

  1. Had nightmares about the event(s) or thought about the event(s) when you did not want to?
    YES / NO
  2. Tried hard not to think about the event(s) or went out of your way to avoid situations that reminded you of the event(s)?
    YES / NO
  3. Been constantly on guard, watchful, or easily startled?
    YES / NO
  4. Felt numb or detached from people, activities, or your surroundings?
    YES / NO
  5. Felt guilty or unable to stop blaming yourself or others for the event(s) or any problems the event(s) may have caused?
    YES / NO

Citation

Prins, A., Bovin, M. J., Kimerling, R., Kaloupek, D. G., Marx, B. P., Pless Kaiser, A., & Schnurr, P. P. (2015). The Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5). [Measurement instrument].

References (PC-PTSD-5)

Prins, A., Bovin, M. J., Smolenski, D. J., Mark, B. P., Kimerling, R., Jenkins-Guarnieri, M. A., Kaloupek, D. G., Schnurr, P. P., Pless Kaiser, A., Leyva, Y. E., & Tiet, Q. Q. (2016). The Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5): Development and evaluation within a Veteran primary care sample. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 31, 1206-1211. doi:10.1007/s11606-016-3703-5

References (PC-PTSD for DSM-IV)

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 PTSDpubs 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.

To Obtain Scale

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

Download the Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5):

Download the Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-IV (PC-PTSD)

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: 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.

Back to top

Get help for PTSD

If you need help right away:

FacebookTwitterYouTube

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