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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Potential Stressful Events Interview (PSEI) for DSM-IV

Potential Stressful Events Interview (PSEI) for DSM-IV

Resnick, Falsetti, Kilpatrick, & Freedy, 1996


The 62-item Potential Stressful Events Interview (PSEI) was designed for use in the DSM-IV PTSD Field Trial to provide descriptive data on prevalence of traumatic events. It provides information on exposure to traumatic events as well as PTSD.

It is a comprehensive interview with five parts: (1) demographics; (2) low magnitude stressors in the last year such as job loss and serious illness; (3) high magnitude stressors such as combat or military experience or witness to someone being seriously injured; (4) objective characteristics of the prominent high and low magnitude events; and, (5) subjective characteristics of these prominent events. The final part (5) is a self-report that examines 15 emotional responses such as surprised or ashamed and 10 physical reactions such as shortness of breath and rapid heart rate. It can be used for both research and clinical purposes.

A subsection of the PSEI, called the National Women's Study Event History (NWSEH), interview can be administered independently of the other sections of the PSEI. The NWSEH takes 15-30 minutes to administer and covers the full range of high magnitude stressor events with very detailed assessments of sexual and physical assault events.

Sample Item

At anytime during your life, has anyone used force or threats of force to make you have some type of unwanted sexual contact?


Resnick, H. S., Falsetti, S. A., Kilpatrick, D. G., & Freedy, J. R. (1996). Assessment of rape and other civilian trauma-related post-traumatic stress disorder: Emphasis on assessment of potentially traumatic events. In T. W. Miller (Ed.), Stressful life events (pp. 231-266). Madison: International Universities Press.

To Obtain Scale

Dean Kilpatrick, PhD
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center
171 Ashely Ave.
Charleston, SC 29425-0742

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