Validation of Abbreviated Four- and Eight-Item Versions of the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 in a Traumatically Injured Sample

Timothy J. Geier, Joshua C. Hunt, Jessica L. Hanson, Katelyn Heyrman, Sadie E. Larsen, Karen J. Brasel, Terri A. deRoon-Cassini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are three times higher in traumatically injured populations than the general population, yet limited brief, valid measures for assessing PTSD symptom severity exist. The PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) is a valid, efficient measure of symptom severity, but its completion is time consuming. Subsequently, abbreviated four- and eight-item versions were developed using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview–7 PTSD module and validated in Veteran samples. This study aimed to validate these abbreviated versions using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5), the gold standard for PTSD diagnosis, in a traumatically injured civilian population. Participants were 251 traumatically injured adults (Mage = 42.52 years; 69.3% male; 50.2% Caucasian) recruited from a Level 1 trauma center inpatient unit; 32.3% and 17.9% of participants experienced a motor vehicle crash or gunshot wound, respectively. The CAPS-5 and PCL-5 were administered approximately 6.5 months postinjury. We examined whether compared to the full PCL-5, the abbreviated versions would adequately differentiate between participants with and without a CAPS-5 PTSD diagnosis. The abbreviated versions were highly correlated with the total scale and showed good-to-excellent internal consistency. The diagnostic utility of the abbreviated measures was comparable to that of the total scale regarding sensitivity, suggesting they may be useful as abbreviated screening tools; however, the total scale functioned better regarding specificity. The abbreviated versions of the PCL-5 may be useful screening instruments in the long-term care of traumatic injury survivors and may be more likely to be implemented across routine clinical and research contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-226
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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