PTSD Checklist 5 (PCL-5)

Description
The PCL-5 is a 20 item self-report measure of the 20 DSM-5 symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Included in the scale are four domains consistent with the four criterion of PTSD in DSM-5:

– Re-experiencing (criterion B)
– Avoidance (criterion C)
– Negative alterations in cognition and mood (criterion D)
– Hyper-arousal (criterion E)

The PCL-5 can be used to monitor symptom change, to screen for PTSD, or to make a provisional PTSD diagnosis.

Validity
The PCL-5 is a relatively new scale (released in 2013), therefore only preliminary validation is currently available. Validation research points to the clinical utility of the PCL-5. All four criterion scales demonstrate high internal consistency (Cohen et al., 2015). There was also a high correlation of PTSD prevalence in a student sample (n = 2490) between the symptom severity (1.4% meeting PTSD criteria) and diagnostic classification scoring methods (1.3% meeting PTSD criteria) (Cohen et al., 2015).

Interpretation
Scores consist of a total symptom severity score (from 0 to 80) and scores for four subscales:

– Re-experiencing (items 1-5 – max score = 20)
– Avoidance (items 6-7 – max score = 8)
– Negative alterations in cognition and mood (items 8-14 – max score = 28)
– Hyper-arousal (items 15-20 – max score = 24)

In addition to a raw score being presented, a “mean score” is also computed, which is the subscale score divided by the number of items. These scores range between 0 to 5, where higher scores represent higher severity.

Consistent with the likert scale:

0 = Not at all
1 = A little bit
2 = Moderately
3 = Quite a bit
4 = Extremely

A provisional PTSD diagnosis can be made by treating each item rated as 2=”Moderately” or higher as an endorsed symptom, then following the DSM-5 diagnostic rule which requires at least: 1 B item (questions 1-5), 1 C item (questions 6-7), 2 D items (questions 8-14), 2 E
items (questions 15-20). A cut-off raw score is 38 for a provisional diagnosis of PTSD. This cut-off has high sensitivity (.78) and specificity (.98) (Cohen et al., 2015). If the scale is used to track symptoms over time, a minimum 10 point change represents clinically significant change (as based on the PCL for DSM-IV change scores).

Developer
Weathers, F.W., Litz, B.T., Keane, T.M., Palmieri, P.A., Marx, B.P., & Schnurr, P.P. (2013).The PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). Scale available from the National Center for PTSD at www.ptsd.va.gov.

References
http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/assessment/adult-sr/ptsd-checklist.asp Cohen, J., et al. (2015). Preliminary Evaluation of the Psychometric Properties of the PTSD Checklist for DSM – 5. (Conference Presentation). doi: 10.12140/2.1.4448.5444

Instructions to Client
In the past month, how much were you bothered by:

Try the BetterMind Web Browser App for Free

Your free account will get you access to all of BetterMind’s features, assessments, metrics, scores and graphs all at ZERO cost. We know you will BetterMind because it was built with professional health practioners, like you, in mind. Try it for free and see how BetterMind can enhance your practice.