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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2012 Jul-Aug;34(4):332-8. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2012.02.003. Epub 2012 Mar 27.

Abbreviated PTSD Checklist (PCL) as a guide to clinical response.

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Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health, VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, CA, USA.



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.


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.


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.


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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