BRIEF REPORT: Utility of a Short Screening Scale for DSM-IV PTSD in Primary Care


  • The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

Address correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr. Kimerling, National Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, 795 Willow Rd., PTSD-334; Menlo Park, CA 94025 (e-mail:


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate Breslau's 7-item screen for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for use in primary care.

DESIGN: One hundred and thirty-four patients were recruited from primary care clinics at a large medical center. Participants completed the self-administered 7-item PTSD screen. Later, psychologists blinded to the results of the screen-interviewed patients using the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). Sensitivity, specificity, and likelihood ratios (LR) were calculated using the CAPS as the criterion for PTSD.

RESULTS: The screen appears to have test-retest reliability (r=.84), and LRs range from 0.04 to 13.4.

CONCLUSIONS: Screening for PTSD in primary care is time efficient and has the potential to increase the detection of previously unrecognized PTSD.