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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Brief Trauma Questionnaire (BTQ)


Brief Trauma Questionnaire (BTQ)


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.W., 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). doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-9-29

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. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.2798

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. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2008.08.001

Morgan, C.A., III, Doran, A.P., Steffians, G., Hazlett, G., & Southwick, S. (2006). Stress-induced deficits in working memory and visuo-constructive abilities in special operations soldiers (PDF). Biological Psychiatry, 60, 722-729. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.04.021 PTSDpubs ID: 28863

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 (PDF). American Journal of Psychiatry, 158, 1239-1247. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.158.8.1239 PTSDpubs ID: 07340

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 (PDF). Biological Psychiatry, 54, 1087-1091. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3223(03)00433-5 PTSDpubs ID: 26018

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 (PDF). Journal of Clinical Geropsychology, 8, 175-187. doi: 10.1023/A:1015992110544 PTSDpubs ID: 24928

Whealin, J.M., Batzer, W.B., Morgan, C.A. III, Detwiler, H.F., Schnurr, P.P., & Friedman, M.J. (2007). Cohesion, burnout, and past-trauma in tri-service medical and support personnel (PDF). Military Medicine, 172, 266-272. doi: 10.7205/MILMED.172.3.266 PTSDpubs ID: 80731

To Obtain Scale

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

Download the Brief Trauma Questionnaire:

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

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Our PTSD Consultation Program can answer administration or scoring questions: 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.

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