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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Combat Exposure Scale (CES)


Combat Exposure Scale (CES)


The Combat Exposure Scale (CES) is a 7-item self-report measure that assesses wartime stressors experienced by combatants. Items are rated on a 5-point frequency (1 = "no" or "never" to 5 = "26+ times" or "51+ times"), 5-point duration (1 = "never" to 5 = "7+ months"), or 45-point degree of loss (1 = "none" to 45 = "76% or more") scale.

Respondents are asked to reply based on their exposure to various combat situations, such as firing rounds at the enemy and being on dangerous duty.

Administration and Scoring

The CES was developed to be easily administered and scored and is useful in both research and clinical settings. The total CES score (ranging from 0 - 41) is calculated by using a sum of weighted scores, which can be classified into one of five categories of combat exposure ranging from "light" to "heavy." Scoring instructions are included with the measure.

Sample Item

  • Item: Were you ever surrounded by the enemy?
  • Response: 5-point frequency (1 = "no" to 5 = "26+ times")


Keane, T.M., Fairbank, J.A., Caddell, J.M., Zimering, R.T., Taylor, K.L., & Mora, C. (1989). Clinical evaluation of a measure to assess combat exposure (PDF). Psychological Assessment, 1, 53-55. doi: 10.1037/1040-3590.1.1.53 PTSDpubs ID: 01555

To Obtain Scale

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

Download the Combat Exposure Scale:

  • CES and scoring information. (PDF)

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