Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PCL-5)
20 questions that assesses the DSM-5 symptoms of PTSD
The Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL-5) is a self-report instrument for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) based on the DSM-5 diagnosis criteria. It’s a 20-item self-report measure that assesses the presence and severity of PTSD symptoms, the questions on the PCL-5 correspond with DSM-5 criteria for PTSD. The PCL-5 has a variety of purposes, including: quantifying and monitoring symptoms over time, screening individuals for PTSD, and assisting in making a provisional diagnosis of PTSD.
The PCL-5 is a self-report instrument and can be completed in approximately 5-10 minutes. It was developed by staff at VA's National Center for PTSD and is not copyrighted. The PCL-5 should not be used as a stand-alone diagnostic tool. When considering a diagnosis, the clinician will still need to use clinical interviewing skills, and a recommended structured interview (e.g., Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5, CAPS-5) to determine a diagnosis.
Summing all 20 items (range 0-80) and using a cut-point score of 31-33 appears to be reasonable based upon current psychometric work, which is limited, which suggestive a positive screening for PTSD. The evidence for the PCL-5 suggests that a 5 points as a minimum threshold for determining whether an individual has responded to treatment and 10 points as a minimum threshold for determining whether the improvement is clinically meaningful.
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