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PTSD Checklist - Civilian (PCL-C)
The instrument is freely available here:PTSD CheckList – Civilian Version (PCL-C)
Supplemental: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Exploratory: Sport-Related Concussion (SRC) Subacute (after 72 hours to 3 months) and Persistent/Chronic (3 months and greater post concussion), Stroke, and Unruptured Cerebral Aneurysms and Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH)
Short Description of Instrument
There are three different versions of this checklist: Civilian, Military and Stressor Specific.
The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL) is a 17-item self- report measure of the DSM-IV symptoms of PTSD. Respondents rate how much they were "bothered by a symptom" on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 ("not at all") to 5 ("extremely").
Proper administration requires that the test taker be able to respond meaningfully to the items. The test taker must be able to see, read, and comprehend the items. Average reading difficulty is about the 6th-grade level.
Age range: Most suggest 16 years and older
Comments/Special Instructions
Scoring and Psychometric Properties
Scoring: The PCL can be scored in two ways: a) a total score (range 17-85), or b) using differential symptom response to follow the DSM-IV criteria (For DSM-V criteria see PCL-5). In the latter approach item ratings of 3–5 (Moderately or above) are considered symptomatic and DSM criteria are used for a diagnosis:
    • - Symptomatic response to at least 1 "B" item (Questions 1–5),
    • - Symptomatic response to at least 3 "C" items (Questions 6–12),
    • - Symptomatic response to at least 2 "D" items (Questions 13–17)  

Patient reads the items and answers on a 5-point rating scale. Interpretation requires doctoral level training in psychology.
Administration time: 5 minutes.
Psychometric Properties: The PCL shows good temporal stability, internal consistency, test–retest reliability, and convergent validity. The majority of structural validity studies support four factor models. Little is available on discriminant validity and sensitivity to change.
The PCL provides a brief assessment of PTSD symptoms, can be used for diagnostic and severity purposes, and can be used to monitor change in response to treatment. Public domain and widely used measure.
Weathers, F., Litz, B., Herman, D., Huska, J., & Keane, T. (October 1993). The PTSD Checklist (PCL): Reliability, Validity, and Diagnostic Utility. Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, San Antonio, TX.
Weathers FW, Litz BT, Keane TM, Palmieri PA, Marx BP, Schnurr PP. (2013). The PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). Scale available from the National Center for PTSD at
Blevins CA, Weathers FW, Davis MT, Witte TK, Domino JL. The Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5): Development and initial psychometric evaluation. J Trauma Stress. 2015;28:489-498.
Bovin MJ, Marx BP, Weathers FW, Gallagher MW, Rodriguez P, Schnurr PP, Keane TM. Psychometric properties of the PTSD Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fifth Edition (PCL-5) in veterans. Psychol Assess. 2016;28(11):1379-1391.
Goldfinger JZ, Edmondson D, Kronish IM, Fei K, Balakrishnan R, Tuhrim S, Horowitz CR. Correlates of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Stroke Survivors. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2014;23(5):1099-1105.
Wilkins KC, Lang AJ, Norman SB. Synthesis of the psychometric properties of the PTSD checklist (PCL) military, civilian, and specific versions. Depress Anxiety. 2011 Jul;28(7):596-606.
Wortmann JH, Jordan AH, Weathers FW, Resick PA, Dondanville KA, Hall-Clark B, Foa EB, Young-McCaughan S, Yarvis JS, Hembree EA, Mintz J, Peterson AL, Litz BT. Psychometric analysis of the PTSD Checklist-5 (PCL-5) among treatment-seeking military service members. Psychol Assess. 2016;28(11):1392-1403.


Document last updated May 2020