The primary care PTSD screen (PC-PTSD): Development and operating characteristics

Annabel Prins, Paige Ouimette, Rachel Kimerling, Rebecca P. Cameron, Daniela S. Hugelshofer, Jennifer Shaw-Hegwer, Ann Thrailkill, Fred D. Gusman, Javaid I. Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

769 Citations (Scopus)


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a frequently unrecognized anxiety disorder in primary care settings. This study reports on the development and operating characteristics of a brief 4-item screen for PTSD in primary care (PC-PTSD). 188 VA primary care patients completed the PC-PTSD, the PTSD Symptom Checklist (PCL) and the Clinician Administered Scale for PTSD (CAPS). The prevalence of PTSD was 24.5%. Signal detection analyses showed that with this base rate, the PC-PTSD had an optimally efficient cutoff score of 3 for both male and female patients. A cutoff score of 2 is recommended when sensitivity rather than efficiency is optimized. The PC-PTSD outperformed the PCL in terms of overall quality, sensitivity, specificity, efficiency, and quality of efficiency. The PC-PTSD appears to be a psychometrically sound screen for PTSD with comparable operating characteristics to other screens for mental disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalPrimary Care Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2003



  • PTSD
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Primary care
  • Screen
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Prins, A., Ouimette, P., Kimerling, R., Cameron, R. P., Hugelshofer, D. S., Shaw-Hegwer, J., Thrailkill, A., Gusman, F. D., & Sheikh, J. I. (2003). The primary care PTSD screen (PC-PTSD): Development and operating characteristics. Primary Care Psychiatry, 9(1), 9-14.