Screening for PTSD in public-sector mental health settings: The diagnostic utility of the PTSD checklist

Anouk L. Grubaugh, Jon D. Elhai, Karen J. Cusack, Chris Wells, B. Christopher Frueh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


There are few available data on how to accurately screen for and assess posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among severely mentally ill adults, a group with high rates of unrecognized trauma and PTSD symptoms. We examined the diagnostic utility of a widely used screening instrument, the PTSD Checklist (PCL), for diagnosing PTSD among 44 traumatized, adult, public-sector mental health patients recruited through a community mental health program. Participants completed the PCL and the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), which is considered the "gold standard" for determining PTSD diagnoses. Data provide preliminary support for the use of the PCL as a screening instrument in public psychiatric settings, indicating that the optimal cut-point for adults with severe mental illness is about 54 (with slightly higher or lower recommended cut-points depending on the clinical context and purpose of the PCL). Such data are critical to ensuring that public-sector mental health patients with trauma-related difficulties are identified and referred for appropriate services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-129
Number of pages6
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007


  • PCL
  • PTSD
  • Public psychiatric settings
  • ROC
  • Severe mental illness
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Screening for PTSD in public-sector mental health settings: The diagnostic utility of the PTSD checklist'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this