Abbreviated PTSD Checklist (PCL) as a Guide to Clinical Response

Published In: General Hospital Psychiatry, v. 34, no. 4, July-Aug. 2012, p. 332-338

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2012

by Ariel J Lang, Kendall Walkins, Peter Roy-Byrne, Daniela Golinelli, Denise A. Chavira, Cathy D. Sherbourne, Raphael D. Rose, Alexander Bystritsky, Greer Sullivan, Michelle G. Craske, Murray Stein

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OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate two abbreviated versions of the PTSD Checklist (PCL), a self-report measure of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, as an index of change related to treatment. METHOD: Data for this study were from 181 primary care patients diagnosed with PTSD who enrolled in a large randomized trial. These individuals received a collaborative care intervention (cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or medication) or usual care and were followed 6 and 12 months later to assess their symptoms and functioning. The sensitivity of the PCL versions (i.e., full, two-item, six-item), correlations between the PCL versions and other measures, and use of each as indicators of reliable and clinically significant change were evaluated. RESULTS: All versions had high sensitivity (.92–.99). Correlations among the three versions were high, but the six-item version corresponded more closely to the full version. Both shortened versions were adequate indicators of reliable and clinically significant change. CONCLUSION: Whereas prior research has shown the two-item or six-item versions of the PCL to be good PTSD screening instruments for primary care settings, the six-item version appears to be the better alternative for tracking treatment-related change.

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