Operating Characteristics of the PTSD Checklist in a Military Primary Care Setting

Published in: Psychological Assessment, v. 25, no. 3, Sep. 2013, p. 1032-1036

Posted on RAND.org on September 01, 2013

by Kristie L. Gore, Phoebe K. McCutchan, Annabel Prins, Michael C. Freed, Xian Liu, Jennifer M. Weil, Charles C. Engel

Read More

Access further information on this document at Psychological Assessment

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

The Department of Defense (DoD) is implementing universal behavioral health screening for all DoD health-care beneficiaries presenting to military primary care clinics. The PTSD Checklist–Civilian Version (PCL-C; Weathers, Litz, Herman, Huska, & Keane, 1993) is used for the identification of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); however, the operating characteristics of the PCL-C remain unstudied in this population. This study examined the operating characteristics of the PCL-C in a sample of 213 patients from 3 Washington, D.C., area military primary care clinics. Blinded raters independently assessed PTSD using the PTSD Symptom Scale Interview (Foa, Riggs, Dancu, & Rothbaum, 1993) as the diagnostic criterion standard. The receiver operating characteristic curve revealed that PCL-C scores accounted for 92% of the area under the curve. A PCL-C score of 31 optimized sensitivity (0.93) and specificity (0.90), and the multilevel likelihood ratio was 5.50 (95% confidence interval [2.26, 13.37]). Internal consistency (0.97) and test–retest reliability (0.87 after a median 13 days) were strong. Results suggest that a PCL-C score of 31 is the optimal cutoff score for use in a military primary care setting serving active duty service members, dependents, and retirees. These findings offer military primary care providers preliminary data to interpret PCL-C scores and to inform treatment decisions as part of routine clinical practice.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.