Cover of Screening for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Primary Care: A Systematic Review

Screening for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Primary Care: A Systematic Review

Evidence-based Synthesis Program

Investigators: , PhD, , PhD, , MD, , PhD, , PhD, , PhD, and , BS. Minneapolis VA Medical Center ESP Director: , MD, MPH.

Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs (US); .


To minimize treatment delays and to maximize population reach, Veterans Affairs (VA) established a screening program to facilitate identification of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in their patients as they present in primary care clinics. Such screening programs may be helpful because primary care providers often have difficulty identifying PTSD in their patients and PTSD is frequently undertreated in the primary care setting. The premise of this type of screening program is to facilitate mental health treatment engagement earlier in the course of the illness and to engage patients in treatment who might otherwise not be identified as needing mental health care.

Recently, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report examining the screening, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation services for military Veterans and service members with PTSD in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. As noted in the IOM report and elsewhere, successful screening programs utilize instruments that are simple, valid, precise, and acceptable both clinically and socially. To identify screening tools that are best suited to the primary care setting, this evidence synthesis report reviews the literature on the feasibility and diagnostic accuracy of screening tools used and evaluated with a gold standard in a primary care setting.