Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PCL-5)

20 questions that assesses the DSM-5 symptoms of PTSD


1.For each of the subsequent questions, you'll be asked to answer the following question "In the past month, how much were you bothered by..."
2.Repeated, disturbing, and unwanted memories of the stressful experience?
3.Repeated, disturbing dreams of the stressful experience?
4.Suddenly feeling or acting as if the stressful experience were actually happening again (as if you were actually back there reliving it)?
5.Feeling very upset when something reminded you of the stressful experience?
6.Having strong physical reactions when something reminded you of the stressful experience (for example, heart pounding, trouble breathing, sweating)?
7.Avoiding memories, thoughts, or feelings related to the stressful experience?
8.Avoiding external reminders of the stressful experience (for example, people, places, conversations, activities, objects, or situations)?
9.Trouble remembering important parts of the stressful experience?
10.Having strong negative beliefs about yourself, other people, or the world (for example, having thoughts such as: I am bad, there is something seriously wrong with me, no one can be trusted, the world is completely dangerous)?
11.Blaming yourself or someone else for the stressful experience or what happened after it?
12.Having strong negative feelings such as fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame?
13.Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy?
14.Feeling distant or cut off from other people?
15.Trouble experiencing positive feelings (for example, being unable to feel happiness or have loving feelings for people close to you)?
16.Irritable behavior, angry outbursts, or acting aggressively?
17.Taking too many risks or doing things that could cause you harm?
18.Being “superalert” or watchful or on guard?
19.Feeling jumpy or easily startled?
20.Having difficulty concentrating?
21.Trouble falling or staying asleep?


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.


Blevins CA, Weathers FW, Davis MT, Witte TK, Domino JL.

Journal of Traumatic Stress 2015, 28 (6): 489-98.

Wortmann JH, Jordan AH, Weathers FW, et al.

Psychological Assessment 2016, 28 (11): 1392-1403.

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PCL-5) calculator is created by QxMD.

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1. For each of the subsequent questions, you'll be asked to answer the following question "In the past month, how much were you bothered by..."

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