Contrasting approaches to psychological screening with U.S. combat soldiers


  • We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Europe Regional Medical Command, Richard Trotta, and Robert Johnson. We express appreciation to Carl Castro for consultation and support of the research. We thank Angela Salvi, Christina Terra, Andrea Bellis, Kelley Rice, Deena Carr, and Nicol Sinclair for their dedicated contributions to the study.

    Material has been reviewed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. There is no objection to its publication. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. government.


Psychological screening can be conducted using global screens, single items, symptom-based scales, or composite measures. These four different approaches were evaluated against structured clinical interviews in studies with U.S. soldiers preparing to deploy and returning from combat operations in Iraq. Three samples (N = 337, N = 574, and N = 348) were screened to assess the effectiveness of a short global measure of distress, a single self-referral item, symptom-specific scales selected for the target population, and a composite instrument that included a combination of clinical domains. A composite screen with measures of posttraumatic stress, depression, and alcohol problems, along with a single self-referral item, performed most effectively.