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JAMA Network Open








Importance: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health disorder that can be effectively treated with empirically based practices. PTSD screening is essential for identifying undetected cases and providing patients with appropriate care. Objective: To determine whether the Primary Care PTSD screen for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition) (PC-PTSD-5) is a diagnostically accurate and acceptable measure for use in Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care clinics. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional, diagnostic accuracy study enrolled participants from May 19, 2017, to September 26, 2018. Participants were recruited from primary care clinics across 2 VA Medical Centers. Session 1 was conducted in person, and session 2 was completed within 30 days via telephone. A consecutive sample of 1594 veterans, aged 18 years or older, who were scheduled for a primary care visit was recruited. Data analysis was performed from March 2019 to August 2020. Exposures: In session 1, participants completed a battery of questionnaires. In session 2, a research assistant administered the PC-PTSD-5 to participants, and then a clinician assessor blind to PC-PTSD-5 results conducted a structured diagnostic interview for PTSD. Main Outcomes and Measures: The range of PC-PTSD-5 cut points overall and across gender was assessed, and diagnostic performance was evaluated by calculating weighted κ values. Results: In total, 495 of 1594 veterans (31%) participated, and 396 completed all measures and were included in the analyses. Participants were demographically similar to the VA primary care population (mean [SD] age, 61.4 [15.5] years; age range, 21-93 years) and were predominantly male (333 participants [84.1%]) and White (296 of 394 participants [75.1%]). The PC-PTSD-5 had high levels of diagnostic accuracy for the overall sample (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC], 0.927; 95% CI, 0.896-0.959), men (AUC, 0.932; 95% CI, 0.894-0.969), and women (AUC, 0.899, 95% CI, 0.824-0.974). A cut point of 4 ideally balanced false negatives and false positives for the overall sample and for men. However, for women, this cut point resulted in high numbers of false negatives (6 veterans [33.3%]). A cut point of 3 fit better for women, despite increasing the number of false positives. Participants rated the PC-PTSD-5 as highly acceptable. Conclusions and Relevance: The PC-PTSD-5 is an accurate and acceptable screening tool for use in VA primary care settings. Because performance parameters will change according to sample, clinicians should consider sample characteristics and screening purposes when selecting a cut point.

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Creative Commons License
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